Small wind turbines (SWTs) have become increasingly common within the last decade, but their impact on wildlife, especially bats, is largely unknown. We conducted an operational experiment by sequentially placing a mobile SWT with five different operational modes at six sites of high bat activity, including roosts, commuting structures, and highly frequented hunting areas. Bat flight trajectories around the SWT were documented at each site during five consecutive nights using a specifically designed high-spatial-resolution 3D camera. The recordings showed high bat activity levels close to the SWT (7,065 flight trajectories within a 10-m radius). The minimum distance to the rotor of each trajectory varied between 0 and 18 m, with a mean of 4.6 m across all sites. Linear mixed models created to account for site differences showed that, compared to a reference pole without a SWT, bats flew 0.4 m closer to the rotor (95% CI 0.3–0.6 m) if it was out of operation and 0.3 m closer (95% CI 0.1–0.4 m) if it was moving slowly. Exploratory behavior was frequently observed, with many bats deviating from their original flight trajectory to approach the rotor. Among 7,850 documented trajectories, 176 crossed the rotor, including 65 while it was in motion. The collision of one P. pygmaeus individual occurred during the experiment. These results demonstrate that, despite the generally strong ability of bats to evade moving rotor blades, bat casualties at SWTs placed at sites of high bat activity can reach or exceed the current threshold levels set for large wind turbines. As SWTs provide less energy than large turbines, their negative impact on bats should be minimized by avoidance measures such as a bat-friendly site selection or curtailment algorithms.