We estimated impacts on birds from the development and operation of wind turbines in Canada considering both mortality due to collisions and loss of nesting habitat. We estimated collision mortality using data from carcass searches for 43 wind farms, incorporating correction factors for scavenger removal, searcher efficiency, and carcasses that fell beyond the area searched. On average, 8.2 ± 1.4 birds (95% C.I.) were killed per turbine per year at these sites, although the numbers at individual wind farms varied from 0 - 26.9 birds per turbine per year. Based on 2955 installed turbines (the number installed in Canada by December 2011), an estimated 23,300 birds (95% C.I. 20,000 - 28,300) would be killed from collisions with turbines each year. We estimated direct habitat loss based on data from 32 wind farms in Canada. On average, total habitat loss per turbine was 1.23 ha, which corresponds to an estimated total habitat loss due to wind farms nationwide of 3635 ha. Based on published estimates of nest density, this could represent habitat for ~5700 nests of all species. Assuming nearby habitats are saturated, and 2 adults displaced per nest site, effects of direct habitat loss are less than that of direct mortality. Installed wind capacity is growing rapidly, and is predicted to increase more than 10-fold over the next 10-15 years, which could lead to direct mortality of approximately 233,000 birds / year, and displacement of 57,000 pairs. Despite concerns about the impacts of biased correction factors on the accuracy of mortality estimates, these values are likely much lower than those from collisions with some other anthropogenic sources such as windows, vehicles, or towers, or habitat loss due to many other forms of development. Species composition data suggest that < 0.2% of the population of any species is currently affected by mortality or displacement from wind turbine development. Therefore, population level impacts are unlikely, provided that highly sensitive or rare habitats, as well as concentration areas for species at risk, are avoided.
Canadian Estimate of Bird Mortality Due to Collisions and Direct Habitat Loss Associated with Wind Turbine Developments
Title: Canadian Estimate of Bird Mortality Due to Collisions and Direct Habitat Loss Associated with Wind Turbine Developments
January 01, 2013
Journal: Avian Conservation and Ecology
Publisher: The Resilience Alliance
Zimmerling, J.; Pomeroy, A.; d'Entremont, M.; Francis, C. (2013). Canadian Estimate of Bird Mortality Due to Collisions and Direct Habitat Loss Associated with Wind Turbine Developments. Avian Conservation and Ecology, 8(2), 1-13.