It has been documented that wind turbine operations at the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area kill large numbers of birds of multiple species, including raptors. We initiated a study that integrates research on bird behaviors, raptor prey availability, turbine design, inter-turbine distribution, landscape attributes, and range management practices to explain the variation in avian mortality at two levels of analysis: the turbine and the string of turbines. We found that inter-specific differences in intensities of use of airspace within close proximity did not explain the variation in mortality among species.
Unique suites of attributes relate to mortality of each species, so species-specific analyses are required to understand the factors that underlie turbine-caused fatalities. We found that golden eagles are killed by turbines located in the canyons and that rock piles produced during preparation of the wind tower laydown areas related positively to eagle mortality, perhaps due to the use of these rock piles as cover by desert cottontails. Other similar relationships between fatalities and environmental factors are identified and discussed. The tasks remaining to complete the project are summarized.