Wind energy, like all renewable energy resources, is sustainable with a far lower carbon footprint than the burning of fossil fuels. Consequently, it plays a role in mitigating climate change. While there has been a rapid rise in the use of wind energy over the last 15 years, there are concerns regarding the potential effects of wind turbines on wildlife, of which birds are one group of concern. Potential effects include disturbance via direct or indirect habitat loss and fatality through collision with turbine blades. The probability of bird collisions with turbines depends on factors associated both with the location and design of wind farms and species’ behaviour and physiology. Most adverse effects can be prevented by careful wind farm placement and Environmental Impact Assessments, with sensitivity maps providing vital means of doing so. Unexpected effects post-construction may be mitigated in a variety of ways, including shutting down turbines during times of high collision risk or repowering of old turbines. Currently, we do not fully understand the interaction between birds and wind farms and thus our predictions of potential effects are limited. Therefore, further research is needed to improve our understanding of both the causes and consequences of collision mortality and displacement effects on bird populations before we can prevent these in the future.
Chapter from the book Problematic Wildlife: A Cross-Disciplinary Approach.