Killing birds

Today’s (8/3/11) LA Times (page AA1) reports that federal authorities are investigating the deaths of golden eagles at the LA Department of Water and Power’s Pine Tree Wind Project in the Tehachapi Mountains.  Environmentalists have long complained about damage to fauna caused by these huge wind generators – from birds to underground fauna.  Things do get dicey, however, when endangered species such as golden eagles  and bald eagles are getting (literally and figuratively) “whacked.”  These recent deaths are not the first, and apparently not much noise has been made when 1500+ birds are killed each year at the Pine Tree facility.  These deaths mostly are “ordinary” migratory song birds, quail, and meadowlarks.

Now I’m not being an apologist, but it is important to understand that over 400,000 birds are killed each year nationwide by encounters with buildings, utility towers, cars, etc.  My own house kills a couple of small birds each year as they fly into our picture windows.

Two questions arise that call for answers: First, are the bird deaths due to wind generators “acceptable” as compared to the already acceptable deaths caused by other structures?  And second, if not, especially if not for endangered species, then what can we do technologically to mitigate these deaths?

It’s probably impractical to enclose a wind farm (and especially a single generator) in a huge chicken-wire fence, but ideas that come to my mind are whistles, sirens, recorded bird screeches, and strobe lights.   Dang if I know, but let’s do something!

-gayn

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