As wind power become more and more commonplace, one frequently hears about the dangers that wind turbines pose to birds.
Multiple studies have looked at bird mortality due to collisions with these wind turbines.
Indeed, estimates are that from 150,000 and 300,000 birds fall victim to wind turbines each year and with increasing numbers of wind farms, this number is only going to grow.
A recent study in an ornithology journal puts this data into perspective. It turns out that between 365 million and 988 million birds are killed each year flying into buildings. Surprisingly, almost half of these fatalities take place at residences of one to three stories in height and only about 1 percent at high-rises. Sheer numbers account for this: the United States has nearly 130 million residences compared to only 21,000 skyscrapers.
In reality, pretty much all structures that we put up represent hazards to birds. At airports, bird collisions are a serious threat to people as well as to birds.
There are ways to cut down on bird collisions. For buildings, putting stickers on windows, the use of netting and other strategies can help. Wind farm operators also are seeking ways to reduce bird collisions.
But one must look carefully at the focus on the danger to birds from wind turbines. Dwarfing the statistics about buildings, wind turbines and anything else we can think is the fact that free-ranging domestic cats kill anywhere from 1.3 to 4 billion birds per year. So the truth is that it is a dangerous world for birds.