If there is one topic people are divided about around the country, it has to be how many birds are killed by turbines every year. Much more divided than which way to cast votes in the upcoming presidential alert. Not even Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has an idea. Trump even said in May this year that in California, windmills are ‘killing all the eagles.’ Being Trump, he quickly overruled that by saying that the blades were killing hundreds of eagles.
Well, windmill turbines are killing somewhere between 214,000 and 368,000 birds every year in North America. A big number at first glance, but in reality a negligible percentage the total number of birds dying from other causes all around. Cats, for instance, kill close to 4 billion birds every year. That is more than ten thousand times the number of birds that die at the slash of the blades. This is a point made by Clear-Skies, selling wind energy.
Collisions with other man-made structures contribute to over six million bird deaths per year, still more than ten times the number at the environmental-friendly power-generation sites.
The deaths caused by windmill blades have still taken prominence over all these other causes because of any of the following factors:
Priority By The Media
Reporting that birds are getting slashed at the mills is of course more newsworthy than reporting that cats are having a field day hunting little flight animals. It makes for better political mileage for political activists- which is the main aim- and is better for memes and other forms of online banter.
Also, people do not want to hear that communication towers are murdering millions of birds because these towers are affecting them in real time basis. And, well, cats are considered cool, calling them bird-murderers will be frowned upon.
Bigger Birds Die At The Mills
While cats will hunt and kill small birds that majority of the population cannot even name, the blades will make casualties of the big mentionables. National icons even. Think the bald eagle and the golden eagle. Many of these birds do not have a big population, while some are actually endangered.
Ignorance About The Bird Population
People just do not know how many birds there are around. Estimates put the total number at around 10 -20 billion during Spring and fall respectively. In this perspective, then, the 400k dying at the turbines becomes a small number.
What Next For The Aves?
National Geographic says that the bird population is on the decline, something it says can be noticed even by casual watchers. The country continues to explore wind as a source of energy, meaning more turbines could come up. This means the death stations could shoot up.
However, with more efforts going into advancing turbines, the increase may not necessarily translate to more bird deaths. More effective turbines, for example, could mean the deaths become even less.
Also, the climate-friendly nature of wind-generated power could actually be a blessing for birds, seeing as climate change has been cited as a major factor snuffing life out of the winged wildlife.