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Dead birds falling from sky: Recent bird kills only tip of the iceberg

Wind turbines, Altamont Pass, Calif. Photo by Mike Parr, American Bird Conservancy.
wind turbines mike parr ABC

Recent bird kills are only the tip of the iceberg

I just received the following News Release relating to the recent reports of thousands of dead birds falling from the sky in Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, and Sweden. I thought you might find it interesting. I sure do. /Gary

(Washington, D.C., January 6, 2011) Recent reports of thousands of dead birds falling from the sky in Arkansas, while getting much attention in the press, only represent a tiny fraction of birds killed each year due to human causes, according to American Bird Conservancy, the nation’s leading bird conservation organization.

“There are many human-related causes of bird mortality including buildings, outdoor cats, pesticides, communication towers, automobiles, wind farms, and lead poisoning from spent ammunition and lost fishing tackle. But because most of the deaths from those sources often occur in ones or twos, they often go unnoticed or unreported,” said ABC Vice President Mike Parr.
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Posted on Friday, January 7th, 2011
Under: Birds, Cats, Pesticide, Wind Turbines | No Comments »

Wind turbines causing dark nights for bats

Wind turbines make bat lungs explode

Posted on Thursday, October 22nd, 2009
Under: Bats, Wind Turbines | No Comments »

Altamont windmills kill raptors

Dear Gary,
I am a volunteer at the Lindsay Wildlife Museum hospital (in Walnut Creek, Calif.). In the last two weeks we have had to euthanize three golden eagles and many other birds of prey that have fallen victim to the (Altamont) windmills. Too often the windmills chop them up so bad it is impossible to save them.

I know the windmills are shut down in November but the migration period obviously starts sooner. I wonder if it would harm our energy production to shut the windmills down just one month earlier so it would avoid the migration completely, and then turn them back on again another time of year when there is no migration to compensate for the month lost?

My friends have suggested a petition to re-schedule the windmills but I don’t know how effective it would be. I want to know what I can do to help the situation of the migrating raptors. (Liz Wakeman, cyberspace)

Dear Liz:
You’re helping now by sending me your letter to publicize this problem. Hopefully this will stimulate some response from my clever readers with suggestions on how to stop the killing.

Anyone have any ideas?

Posted on Wednesday, November 1st, 2006
Under: Raptors, Wind Turbines | 2 Comments »

Wind turbine response

And another thing … As one of my readers, Ken Dexter of Benicia, said in his e-mail: "The raptors and the wind turbines are on the ridge line for similar reasons. The raptors favor the updrafts that occur there and the turbines want the wind. They are bound to butt heads (and wings, legs … ). You might have guessed by now that I am not in favor of these Cuisinarts of the Sky. I think someone is trying to pull the sheep over our eyes."

Posted on Thursday, June 1st, 2006
Under: Golden eagles, Raptors, Wind Turbines | No Comments »

Nothing in nature is ever simple

The letter and my answer below will appear in my Times’ column for June 1. This is for those who read my blog but not my column. I think they may be interested in this little exchange. /Gary

Dear Gary:
I read staff writer Denis Cuff’s article in the Tuesday Times (May 30) about using sheep to keep the grasses at the Altamont wind turbines trimmed. The idea being that if there is no ground cover for the ground squirrels then they will have to find another area to frolic. Which in turn will remove the food supply that attracts the raptors.

If this test works I believe we’ll have a win/win situation. We’ll retain the turbines, feed the sheep and save raptors from getting caught (and killed) in the turbine blades.
Greg Poynter, Richmond, CA

Dear Greg:
Unfortunately, nothing in nature is ever quite that simple.

Many thousands of birds have died at Altamont since those wind turbines were installed 20 or so years ago. Instead of investing the funds to simply redesign the turbines so they won’t kill the hawks, eagles, owls, falcons and vultures, or anything else, they have continually tried to first ignore the situation, and then to focus on low-cost, ineffective solutions when pressed to deal with it.

Now they want to disrupt the local ecosystem by using sheep to overgraze the area to try and make the ground squirrels leave, so the raptors will supposedly go seek their prey elsewhere and not be killed. I’m not so sure this will be that effective. There will still be plenty of other rodents (gophers, field mice, voles, rabbits, and other creatures) for the birds of prey to eat.

Other creatures will also be affected if the ground squirrels are driven away. Burrowing owls use ground squirrel holes to build their nests, and tiger salamanders also like to live in those holes. Gopher snakes and rattlesnakes feed on ground squirrels. And who knows what the effects from overgrazing will be on other species of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, spiders and insects?

And what about the huge numbers of bats that are being killed by wind turbine blades in other parts of the country? I’m sure bats are also dying at Altamont, and bats don’t care about ground squirrels. In fact, all that sheep poop may even attract more insects and therefore more bats to eat them and be killed by the turbines.

As I said, nothing in nature is ever simple.

Posted on Wednesday, May 31st, 2006
Under: Golden eagles, Raptors, Wildlife, Wind Turbines | 2 Comments »