High quality staging sites are critical for long distance migratory shorebirds to rest and refuel but are under threat from human development, including expansion in wind energy projects. However, predicting migration timing and movements in relation to weather conditions at staging sites can increase our understanding and mitigate effects of wind turbine collisions. Here we assessed northward migration timing and orientation in relation to environmental conditions at an inland staging area in Saskatchewan, Canada with active and proposed wind energy developments. The area is known to host ~25% of North America's Sanderling Calidris alba population and 16 other arctic‐breeding migrant shorebird species. We quantified arrival and departure time of day in relation to weather using data from 237 Sanderlings radiotagged locally and at a southern staging site in the Gulf of Mexico with the Motus Wildlife Tracking System (April‐June, 2015‐2017). While Sanderling arrival times were not related to time of day or weather, departures were more likely at sunset in winds blowing towards the northwest at intermediate speeds (<22 km/h). Departure flights were also primarily oriented north‐northwest in the direction of a proposed wind energy development site at a mean ground speed of 21.4 m/s. Based on published climb rates and flight speed data, we estimated that shorebirds needed between 2 and 14 km setback distance to clear maximum turbine heights of 165m. Given that departure events were predictable in time and space, adaptive mitigation may be useful for planning wind energy developments while reducing risk for staging Arctic shorebirds.
Predictable shorebird departure patterns from a staging site can inform collision risks and mitigation of wind energy developments
Title: Predictable shorebird departure patterns from a staging site can inform collision risks and mitigation of wind energy developments
August 19, 2019
Journal: International Journal of Avian Science
Volume: In Press
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Howell, J.; McKellar, A.; Espie, R.; Morrissey, C. (2019). Predictable shorebird departure patterns from a staging site can inform collision risks and mitigation of wind energy developments. International Journal of Avian Science, In Press, 13.