Wind turbines and birds.

Birds General | Raptors | Waterfowl | Geese | Songbirds | Passerines | Seabirds | Grouse | Loons |Shoreline & Wading Birds

Birds, General

Migratory Soaring Birds Project, BirdLife International. The MSB project has developed a set of guidance material which is targeted at  key audiences  involved within the wind energy sector.  These materials are tailored toward  and provide a framework in which to integrate bird and biodiversity concerns throughout the life cycle of a project and reduce any adverse impacts that may potentially occur.

Marques AT, Santos CD, Hanssen F, et al. Wind turbines cause functional habitat loss for migratory soaring birds. J Anim. Ecol. 2019.  DOI: 10.1111/1365-2656.12961

2018 Wind Energy Bird and Bat Monitoring Database. Summary of the Findings from Post-construction Monitoring Reports Bird Studies Canada, Canadian Wind Energy Association, Environment and Climate Change Canada and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. 2018

Pearce‐Higgins, J. W., Stephen, L. , Langston, R. H., Bainbridge, I. P. and Bullman, R. (2009), The distribution of breeding birds around upland wind farms. Journal of Applied Ecology, 46: 1323-1331. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2664.2009.01715.x

22 October 2018, Effects of development of wind energy and associated changes in land use on bird densities in upland areas, Darío Fernández‐Bellon, Mark W. Wilson, Sandra Irwin, John O’Halloran. Conservation Biology, Volume 0, No. 0, 1–10. 2018 Society for Conservation Biology. DOI: 10.1111/cobi.13239
Article impact statement: Wind farm effects on birds in upland areas are guild specific and mediated by changes in land use associated with wind farm construction.

July 2017, Summary of the Findings from Post-construction Monitoring Reports
Bird Studies Canada, Canadian Wind Energy Association, Environment Canada and
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources

Threats from industrial wind turbines to Ontario’s wildlife and biodiversity
Keith Stelling, Wind Concerns Ontario

June 2011, Caleb Gordon , U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, New Insights and New Tools Regarding Risk to Roseate Terns, Piping Plovers, and Red Knots from Wind Facility Operations on the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf 


July 9, 2018, Springer Birds eat 400 to 500 million tons of insects annually – Along with spiders, insectivorous birds play a vital role in consuming insects that would otherwise destroy forests or crops. – “Forest-dwelling birds consume around 75 per cent of the insects eaten in total by birds which make up about 300 million tonnes of insects per year.”

Naylor, 2018     “While wind energy provides a viable solution for emission reductions, it comes at an environmental cost, particularly for birds. As wind energy grows in popularity, its environmental impacts are becoming more apparent. Recent studies indicate that wind power has negative effects on proximate wildlife. These impacts can be direct—collision fatalities—and indirect—habitat loss (Fargione et al. 2012; Glen et al. 2013).

Vasilakis et al., 2017     Numerous wind farms are planned in a region hosting the only cinereous vulture population in south-eastern Europe.  Cumulative collision mortality was expected to be eight to ten times greater in the future (proposed and operating wind farms) than currently (operating wind farms), equivalent to 44% of the current population (103 individuals) if all proposals are authorized (2744 MW). Even under the most optimistic scenario whereby authorized proposals will not collectively exceed the national target for wind harnessing in the study area (960 MW), cumulative collision mortality would still be high (17% of current population) and likely lead to population extinction.”


Mapping the global potential exposure of soaring birds to terrestrial wind energy expansion .  Andrea Santangeli, Stuart H. M. Butchart, Mark Pogson, Astley Hastings,
Pete Smith, Marco Girardello & Atte Moilanen. ORNIS FENNICA Vol. 95, 2018: 1–14. 2018

Wind farms have cascading impacts on ecosystems across trophic levels, Maria Thaker, Amod Zambre & Harshal Bhosale, Nature Ecology & Evolution (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41559-018-0707-z ,

November 5, 2018, Wind farm ‘predator’ effect hits ecosystems: study, Patrick Galey.
Wind farms act as a top “predator” in some ecosystems, harming birds at the top of the food chain and triggering a knock-on effect overlooked by green energy advocates

Read more at:

Watson et al., 2018     “The global potential for wind power generation is vast, and the number of installations is increasing rapidly. We review case studies from around the world of the effects on raptors of wind-energy development. Collision mortality, displacement, and habitat loss have the potential to cause population-level effects, especially for species that are rare or endangered.”

Aschwanden et al., 2018    “The extrapolated number of collisions was 20.7 birds/wind turbine (CI-95%: 14.3–29.6) for 8.5 months. Nocturnally migrating passerines, especially kinglets (Regulus sp.), represented 55% of the fatalities. 2.1% of the birds theoretically exposed to a collision (measured by radar at the height of the wind turbines) were effectively colliding.”

Chiebáo, 2018     “I studied the large-scale movements of white-tailed eagles during the dispersal period, assessing their space use in relation to the distribution of existing and proposed wind farms across Finland.”
I found that a breeding pair holding a territory closer to an installation has a lower probability to breed successfully when compared to a pair from a territory lying farther away.

Lauren C. Naylor, GONE WITH THE WIND, Columbia University. Results of this study Suggest injuries sustained from collisions with wind turbines are unlikely to have a high rehabilitation success rate. Raptors either die on impact or suffer irreparable traumatic injury that results in euthanasia. This low success rate suggests that the use of Rehabilitation as a form of post-development mitigation would be ineffective.

Geese, Waterfowl, Loons

Waterfowl, waterbirds, and wetland concentration areas
In review of wind farm impacts, Stewart et al. (2007) noted that waterfowl and wading
birds experienced the most consistent declines in abundance of all bird groups.

Stewart, G. B., A. S. Pullin, and C. F. Coles. 2007. Poor evidence-base for assessment
of windfarm impacts on birds. Environmental Conservation 34 (1): 1–11.

Gue, C. T., Walker, J. A., Mehl, K. R., Gleason, J. S., Stephens, S. E., Loesch, C. R., Reynolds, R. E. and Goodwin, B. J. (2013), The effects of a large‐scale wind farm on breeding season survival of female mallards and blue‐winged teal in the Prairie Pothole Region. Jour. Wild. Mgmt., 77: 1360-1371. doi:10.1002/jwmg.583

David Hart, Killing Them Softly: How Wind Turbines Affect Waterfowl Nesting. June 10, 2013

Bettina Mendel, Philipp Schwemmer, Verena Peschko, Sabine Müller, Henriette Schwemmer, Moritz Mercker, Stefan Garthe, Operational offshore wind farms and associated ship traffic cause profound changes in distribution patterns of Loons (Gavia spp.), Journal of Environmental Management, Volume 231, 2019, Pages 429-438,
ISSN 0301-4797,

Delta Waterfowl assessment of the potential impacts of the Sharp Hills Wind Farm (SHWF) on breeding and migrating/staging waterfowl. Scott Petrie, Ph.D., CEO, Delta Waterfowl.  Matt Chouinard, M.Sc., Senior Waterfowl Programs Manager, Delta Waterfowl

Lange et al., 2018     “Results from our surface water extractions and aerial surveys suggest that the wind farm has negatively affected redheads through altered hydrology and disturbance displacement. … it is likely that this wind farm has affected other species that use these wetlands or migrate along the lower Texas coast (Contreras et al. 2017).
Studies in Europe investigating the effects on waterfowl by wind turbines have reported similar results, showing that turbines have likely compromised foraging opportunities for waterfowl through disturbance displacement (Larsen and Madsen 2000).”

2014, Preliminary studies on the reaction of growing geese (Anser anser f. domestica) to the proximity of wind turbines.  Results of the study suggest a negative effect of the
immediate vicinity of a wind turbine on the stress parameters of geese and their productivity. DOI:

Shoreline & Wading Birds

08 March 2016.  Negative impact of wind energy development on a breeding shorebird assessed with a BACI study design. Alex Sansom, James W. Pearce‐Higgins, David J. T. Douglas.
We conducted one of the most detailed such studies to date, assessing the impacts of terrestrial wind energy development on the European Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria, a species with enhanced protection under European environmental law. Disturbance activity during construction had no significant effect on Golden Plover breeding abundance or distribution. In contrast, once turbines were erected, Golden Plover abundance was significantly reduced within the wind farm (−79%) relative to the baseline, with no comparable changes in buffer or control areas. Golden Plovers were significantly displaced by up to 400 m from turbines during operation.
Article:The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)

Neal D. Niemuth, Johann A. Walker, Jeffrey S. Gleason, Charles R. Loesch, Ronald E. Reynolds, Scott E. Stephens, Michael A. Erickson. Influence of Wind Turbines on Presence of Willet, Marbled Godwit, Wilson’s Phalarope and Black Tern on Wetlands in the Prairie Pothole Region of North Dakota and South Dakota. Waterbirds (1 October 2013)


Garthe S, et al. (2014) The daily catch: Flight altitude and diving behavior of northern gannets feeding on Atlantic mackerel. Journal of Sea Research, 85,
456–462. Gannet flights are in the range 0-70 m, so it appears unlikely that flying over a large windfarm is an option.


Leddy, K. L., K. F. Higgins, and D. E. Naugle. 1999. Effects of wind turbines on upland
nesting birds in conservation reserve program grasslands. Wilson Bulletin 111:100-104.

Research project “Capercaillie and Wind Energy”. Grouse and Wind Power, Forest Research Institute Baden-Württemberg. ( 2014 – 2019.
The Capercaillie and Wind Energy project is planned for 5 years, until the end of 2019.  At the end of the project, estimated to be 2019, the existing evaluation guidelines(link is external) (German) for Capercaillie and Wind Energy will be updated and published.

Impact of Wind Turbines on Grouse. Forest Research Institute Baden-Württemberg. (

González & Ena (2011): Cantabrian Capercaillie signs disappeared after a wind farm construction

Zeiler & Grünschachner-Berger (2009): Impact of wind power plants on black grouse, Lyrurus tetrix in Alpine regions 

Grünschachner-Berger & Kainer (2011): Birkhühner Tetrao tetrix (Linnaeus 1758): Ein Leben zwischen Windrädern und Schiliften
September 2017, Greater Sage-Grouse Overview and Effects of Wind Energy Development,  American Wind Wildlife Institute (AWWI), which facilitates National Wind Coordinating Collaborative, (NWCC), with funding from the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC, Managing and Operating Contractor for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy.
This NWCC fact sheet provides an overview of current knowledge on greater sage-grouse ecology, status, conservation challenges, and current conservation efforts, and presents a summary of recent research findings on the interactions between sage-grouse and wind energy development.  (This is a wind Industry document)

May 2013, Effects of Wind Power Development on the Population Biology of Greater Prairie-Chickens in Kansas,  National Wind Coordinating Collaborative.
This brief summarizes the key findings from the comprehensive seven-year research project on the effects of wind power development on Greater Prairie-Chickens.  (This is a wind Industry document)

McNew, L.B., L.M. Hunt, A.J. Gregory, S.M. Wisely, and B.K. Sandercock. Wind energy development does not impact the nesting ecology of an obligate grassland bird in a
fragmented landscape. Conservation Biology, submitted April 2013.

Winder, V.L., L.B. McNew, A.J. Gregory, L.M. Hunt, S.M. Wisely, and B.K. Sandercock. Effects of wind energy development on the survival of Greater Prairie-Chickens. Journal of Applied Ecology, submitted January 2013.

Songbirds, Passerines

December 20, 2018, Robin hushed: wind turbines are making songbirds change their tuneMark Whittingham. Newcastle University. Posted in
Wind turbines and songbird communication.

January 30 2018, Wind farms affect the occurrence, abundance and population trends of small passerine birds: The case of the Dupont’s lark. Julia Gómez‐Catasús, Vicente Garza, Juan Traba. British Ecological Society. Volume 55, Issue July 2018, Pages 2033-2042 (ABSTRACT).

We evaluate the effect of wind turbines on occurrence, abundance and population trends of a threatened small passerine species, the Dupont’s lark Chersophilus duponti. To our knowledge, this is one of the first studies addressing the effect of wind farms on population trends using time‐series data from multiple wind farms.

September 14 2006. Chronic industrial noise affects pairing success and age structure of ovenbirds Seiurus aurocapilla. HABIB, L. , BAYNE, E. M. and BOUTIN, S. (2007),  Journal of Applied Ecology, 44: 176-184. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2664.2006.01234.x

Habib, L.D. (2006Effects of chronic industrial noise disturbance on boreal forest songbirds. MSc Thesis. University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.

Burke, D. & Nol, E. (2000Landscape and fragment size effects on reproductive success of forest‐breeding birds in OntarioEcological Applications1017491761.[1749:LAFSEO]2.0.CO;2

Brenowitz, E.A. (1982Long‐range communication of species identity by song in the red‐winged blackbird.Behavioral Ecology Sociobiology102938

Slabbekoorn, H.Ellers, J. & Smith, T.B.(2002) Birdsong and sound transmission: the benefits of reverberationsCondor104564573.

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