In recent years, the eastern foothills of the Rocky Mountains in northeastern British Columbia have received interest as a site of industrial wind energy development but, simultaneously, have been the subject of concern about wind development coinciding with a known migratory corridor of Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos). We tracked and quantified eagle flights that crossed or followed ridgelines slated for one such wind development. We found that hourly passage rates during fall migration peaked at midday and increased by 17% with each 1 km/h increase in wind speed and by 11% with each 1°C increase in temperature. The propensity to cross the ridge tops where turbines would be situated differed between age classes, with juvenile eagles almost twice as likely to traverse the ridge-top area as adults or subadults. During fall migration, Golden Eagles were more likely to cross ridges at turbine heights (risk zone, < 150 m above ground) under headwinds or tailwinds, but this likelihood decreased with increasing temperature. Conversely, during spring migration, eagles were more likely to move within the ridge-top area under eastern crosswinds. Identifying Golden Eagle flight routes and altitudes with respect to major weather systems and local topography in the Rockies may help identify scenarios in which the potential for collisions is greatest at this and other installations.
Flight Paths of Migrating Golden Eagles and the Risk Associated with Wind Energy Development in the Rocky Mountains
Title: Flight Paths of Migrating Golden Eagles and the Risk Associated with Wind Energy Development in the Rocky Mountains
January 01, 2013
Journal: Avian Conservation and Ecology
Johnson, N.; Bradley, J.; Pomeroy, A.; Otter, K. (2013). Flight Paths of Migrating Golden Eagles and the Risk Associated with Wind Energy Development in the Rocky Mountains. Avian Conservation and Ecology, 8(2), 1-16.