The Gulf of Maine (GoM) has been identified by the U.S. Department of Energy and the wind energy industry as an “outstanding” location for offshore wind energy development because of its strong, consistent winds (Schwartz et al. 2010). The GoM is an important area for bird and bat species due to its location on the Atlantic Migration Flyway and its abundance of habitat for nesting seabirds. The area is also a major overwintering area for several seabird species that breed in the southern hemisphere but “winter” in the GoM during the summer months.
This fact sheet provides a summary of potential direct and indirect interactions of birds and bats with offshore wind energy developments, with a focus on potential interactions along the Maine coast and in the northern GoM. Direct impacts include physical interactions with the turbine itself, such as collisions, while indirect impacts are related to factors such as the effects on prey behavior, changes in migration routes and loss of quality habitat. Both direct and indirect impacts can have immediate and cumulative effects on bird and bat populations.
While there are currently no wind turbines installed at sea in the United States, research on wildlife interactions with terrestrial wind turbines and the hundreds of ocean wind turbines in European waters, as well as ongoing impact assessment studies at planned offshore wind energy sites in the U.S., provide the basis for this fact sheet.