# Why Wind Turbines Kill So Many Birds

Wind turbines kill far more birds than a statistical distribution would suggest. There is something deeply attractive to birds about wind turbines.

A few years ago the brilliant Willis Eschenbach explained it. His argument is quite simple: wind turbines murder eagles and other carrion-eaters because wind turbines kill insects:

Based on observations and model calculations, German researchers calculated that each wind turbine kills on the order of 12,000 insects per day, which is some 1,200 tonnes of dead insects per year in Germany alone. And for each bug that is killed, perhaps ten bugs are injured or dazed.

There is a near-vacuum on the back side of the blade. Just going suddenly from normal pressure to near-vacuum can cause a variety of injuries, including bursting the lungs of bats and birds.

So let’s follow the story, starting with the bugs. The turbine is acting like a giant bug-mincer. It is smashing bugs on the leading edges of the blades, just like the smashed bugs you get when you drive down the highway. It is injuring bugs through both turbulence and pressure changes. And it is constantly and invisibly spinning hundreds of both dead and wounded bugs, and lots of smelly bug-juice from the smashed insects, up into the sky.

What happens first, of course, is that the smell of the dead and wounded insects attract lots of other insects. Many insects are scavengers, and so more insects come to feed on the dead insects just like flies drawn to sh … well, you get the idea. So in addition to the bugs killed and wounded, we have all of the other very live bugs eating on them, and flying around between meals.

Now, remember what I said about the frogs eating the flies “before they hit the ground”? What happens next is that large numbers of both bats and insectivorous birds are drawn by the smell of thousands of dead and wounded insects. They do their very best to eat the dead and wounded insects before they hit the ground.

And when you mix large numbers of bats and insectivorous birds on the hunt, somewhat oblivious to their surroundings in pursuit of insect prey, with turbine blade tips going 230 miles an hour, that’s 370 km/hr, the outcome is unavoidable—large numbers of dead and wounded bats and birds.

This leads us to the punchline:

Of course, wherever you have large numbers of dead and wounded bats and birds, you’ll inevitably attract numbers of the large predatory or scavenging birds such as owls, buzzards, vultures, falcons, eagles, kites, buteos, accipiters, and harriers. They come in to eat the living, wounded, or dead birds and bats that came in to eat the living, wounded, or dead bugs … and of course, since these large predators too are on the hunt and somewhat oblivious to their surroundings, when you mix in the high-speed turbine blades the raptors suffer the same fate as the smaller birds, the bats, and the thousands of bugs. Killed and wounded.

All of this handily explains why wind turbines are where birds go for lunch. And as long as the turbine works, it will inevitably attract bugs, birds, and bigger birds. And then chop them up. It is seemingly inexorable. And it is also a fascinating unintended consequence that leads us to the conclusion that if we want to protect these birds we must oppose wind power.

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1. Member
Arahant
@Arahant

iWe: And it is also a fascinating unintended consequence that leads us to the conclusion that if we want to protect these birds we must oppose wind power.

Amen, brother!

2. Coolidge
kedavis
@kedavis

iWe:

Wind turbines kill far more birds than a statistical distribution would suggest. There is something deeply attractive to birds about wind turbines.

A few years ago the brilliant Willis Eschenbach explained it. His argument is quite simple: wind turbines murder eagles and other carrion-eaters because wind turbines kill insects:

Based on observations and model calculations, German researchers calculated that each wind turbine kills on the order of 12,000 insects per day, which is some 1,200 tonnes of dead insects per year in Germany alone. And for each bug that is killed, perhaps ten bugs are injured or dazed.

There is a near-vacuum on the back side of the blade. Just going suddenly from normal pressure to near-vacuum can cause a variety of injuries, including bursting the lungs of bats and birds.

So let’s follow the story, starting with the bugs. The turbine is acting like a giant bug-mincer. It is smashing bugs on the leading edges of the blades, just like the smashed bugs you get when you drive down the highway. It is injuring bugs through both turbulence and pressure changes. And it is constantly and invisibly spinning hundreds of both dead and wounded bugs, and lots of smelly bug-juice from the smashed insects, up into the sky.

What happens first, of course, is that the smell of the dead and wounded insects attract lots of other insects. Many insects are scavengers, and so more insects come to feed on the dead insects just like flies drawn to sh … well, you get the idea. So in addition to the bugs killed and wounded, we have all of the other very live bugs eating on them, and flying around between meals.

Now, remember what I said about the frogs eating the flies “before they hit the ground”? What happens next is that large numbers of both bats and insectivorous birds are drawn by the smell of thousands of dead and wounded insects. They do their very best to eat the dead and wounded insects before they hit the ground.

And when you mix large numbers of bats and insectivorous birds on the hunt, somewhat oblivious to their surroundings in pursuit of insect prey, with turbine blade tips going 230 miles an hour, that’s 370 km/hr, the outcome is unavoidable—large numbers of dead and wounded bats and birds.

Which leads us to the punchline:

Of course, wherever you have large numbers of dead and wounded bats and birds, you’ll inevitably attract numbers of the large predatory or scavenging birds such as owls, buzzards, vultures, falcons, eagles, kites, buteos, accipiters, and harriers. They come in to eat the living, wounded, or dead birds and bats that came in to eat the living, wounded, or dead bugs … and of course, since these large predators too are on the hunt and somewhat oblivious to their surroundings, when you mix in the high-speed turbine blades the raptors suffer the same fate as the smaller birds, the bats, and the thousands of bugs. Killed and wounded.

All of this handily explains why wind turbines are where birds go for lunch. And as long as the turbine works, it will inevitably attract bugs, birds, and bigger birds. And then chop them up. It is seemingly inexorable. And it is also a fascinating unintended consequence that leads us to the conclusion that if we want to protect these birds we must oppose wind power.

You’d think the greenies would do that on their own, but they don’t.

3. Coolidge
Douglas Pratt
@DouglasPratt

We can turn California brown and destroy farmers in California to protect a snail darter, but…

4. Member
Sandy
@Sandy

The turbines also harm people, according to the people claiming to be harmed, but not according to the CDC or “the science.”  Seems strangely familiar. Wonder who is funding “the  science.” https://www.salon.com/2013/09/16/wind_turbines_are_either_making_people_sick_or_driving_them_crazy/

5. Member
Saint Augustine
@SaintAugustine

iWe: All of this handily explains why wind turbines are where birds go for lunch. And as long as the turbine works, it will inevitably attract bugs, birds, and bigger birds. And then chop them up. It is seemingly inexorable. And it is also a fascinating unintended consequence that leads us to the conclusion that if we want to protect these birds we must oppose wind power.

Why, you science denier!

6. Member
MarciN
@MarciN

And then there are the losses from the solar panels.

From A Fable for Tomorrow:

There was a strange stillness. The birds, for example – where had they gone? Many people spoke of them, puzzled and disturbed. The feeding stations in the backyards were deserted. The few birds seen anywhere were moribund; they trembled violently and could not fly. It was a spring without voices. On the mornings that had once throbbed with the dawn chorus of robins, catbirds, doves, jays, wrens and scores of other bird voices there was now no sound; only silence lay over the fields and woods and marsh.

I’ve seen the environmentalists do such terrible things, and I mean terrible, that I sometimes think Silent Spring became their guidebook for how to kill wildlife. It’s kind of like a false flag operation: they kill wildlife because they are stupid and sadistic, destroy the natural environment, and then blame Republicans for the desolation.

My family never mentions the EPA in our house lest Mom get upset. :-)

7. Member
Muleskinner, Weasel Wrangler
@Muleskinner

iWe: All of this handily explains why wind turbines are where birds go for lunch. And as long as the turbine works, it will inevitably attract bugs, birds, and bigger birds. And then chop them up. It is seemingly inexorable. And it is also a fascinating unintended consequence that leads us to the conclusion that if we want to protect these birds we must oppose wind power.

Why, you science denier!

I’d almost expect well-traveled freeways to do the same thing. But if not, it’s another “long tailpipe” consequence of EVs.

8. Member
W Bob
@WBob
9. Member
Steven Seward
@StevenSeward

And all this mania over “saving the planet” is driven by the hoax of Global Warming.  So much  effort, wasted capital, and unnecessary fear and anxiety, all for naught.  Half of Mankind have lost their minds.

10. Member
Muleskinner, Weasel Wrangler
@Muleskinner

This is all I could think of.

11. Member
Columbo
@Columbo

SAVE THE BIRDS!!!

12. Coolidge
DonG (CAGW is a Hoax)
@DonG

iWe:

There is a near-vacuum on the back side of the blade. Just going suddenly from normal pressure to near-vacuum can cause a variety of injuries, including bursting the lungs of bats and birds.

A good article, but I challenge the idea of the “near-vacuum”.   A well designed blade (like a well designed airplane wing) will have laminar flow and little turbulence and only a small drop in pressure across the surface.

13. Member
Annefy
@Annefy

“There are no solutions; only tradeoffs”

14. Member
Annefy
@Annefy

There was a story from Scotland several years ago that a thought-to-be extinct bird was spotted somewhere in Scotland. Thousands of bird watchers gathered to try and catch a glimpse.

And catch a glimpse they did; right before it flew into a wind farm blade.

I’m not above wishing there was video of the event

15. Coolidge
Douglas Pratt
@DouglasPratt

iWe:

There is a near-vacuum on the back side of the blade. Just going suddenly from normal pressure to near-vacuum can cause a variety of injuries, including bursting the lungs of bats and birds.

A good article, but I challenge the idea of the “near-vacuum”. A well designed blade (like a well designed airplane wing) will have laminar flow and little turbulence and only a small drop in pressure across the surface.

The blades produce strong turbulence in their wake. If you see a windmill installation with multiple rows of turbines, only the ones in front are generating any worthwhile power. The companies building them don’t care, they get subsidies for the number of towers they put up, not the amount of power they produce. Turbulence is one of the major reason that no industrial wind “farm” produces more than 55% of its rated capacity even in the best conditions.

16. Member
MarciN
@MarciN

I avoid hot places and weather as much as I possibly can. So I notice when heat is concentrated in one place.

The funny thing about the Globe Is Warming theory is that if it does prove to be true, I would suspect the alternative energy movement as being the cause.

They concentrate heat in single spaces in the electricity-generating plants they want us to rely on for electric cars and tools. Solar panel farms create truly hellish “solar heat islands.” Cluster zoning and urbanization to “save open space” also concentrate heat.

Fossil fuel use allows human beings to deliver heat-producing energy where they need it. It disburses the release of heat and electrical energy. I would take a combustion lawnmower any day over an electric lawnmower because it will not contribute to a heat buildup.

17. Member
philo
@philo

iWe: …since these large predators too are on the hunt and somewhat oblivious to their surroundings…

I’m not really going to argue against the theory or the larger point but…this line stirs the skeptic in me.  As I play my part in the game of fetch with my labs, I am always amazed by how their vision works…how fast they track changes in direction of the target as they maneuver around various objects while running at top speed. I’ve read quite a bit about dogs. I have not read or studied much about birds or prey. (Other than what I picked up about Nate Romanowski’s birds during my drive-time audio book sessions.) But that skeptic sense is still stirred…

18. Member
Steven Seward
@StevenSeward

I avoid hot places and weather as much as I possibly can. So I notice when heat is concentrated in one place.

The funny thing about the Globe Is Warming theory is that if it does prove to be true, I would suspect the alternative energy movement as being the cause.

They concentrate heat in single spaces in the electricity-generating plants they want us to rely on for electric cars and tools. Solar panel farms create truly hellish “solar heat islands.”

Fossil fuel use allows human beings to deliver heat-producing energy where they need it. It disburses the release of heat and electrical energy. I would take a combustion lawnmower any day over an electric lawnmower because it will not contribute to a heat buildup.

You may have something there.  Of the tiny amount of warming that they have detected, it occurs mainly in the Northern Hemisphere where all the Greenies live.

19. Member
Jim McConnell
@JimMcConnell

This is all I could think of.

No, that’s a new, environmentally friendly, windmill.

20. Member
Steven Seward
@StevenSeward

iWe: …since these large predators too are on the hunt and somewhat oblivious to their surroundings…

I’m not really going to argue against the theory or the larger point but…this line stirs the skeptic in me. As I play my part in the game of fetch with my labs, I am always amazed by how their vision works…how fast they track changes in direction of the target as they maneuver around various objects while running at top speed. I’ve read quite a bit about dogs. I have not read or studied much about birds or prey. (Other than what I picked up about Nate Romanowski’s birds during my drive-time audio book sessions.) But that skeptic sense is still stirred…

I see your point but I have noticed that certain man-made obstacles do not seem to be comprehended by creatures.  For instance, squirrels and deer seem to not have any sense when it comes to running out in front of moving vehicles.  You’d think that as soon as they saw or heard a car or truck coming that they would run for cover.

The closest I ever came to hitting a deer was when I drove on Interstate 90 through New York at 1:00 in the  morning.  I was literally the only car on the road, traveling at 65 mph with my bright lights on and making louder than average car noise.  Out of nowhere a deer decides to jump right in front of me to cross the highway.  I don’t remember if I even had time to hit the brakes because he came within about 12 feet of being smashed.  No rational animal or human would run right into such an obvious and visible danger.  It’s possible that their senses are not equipped to deal with objects moving faster and looking different than normal fauna.  I wouldn’t be surprised if many birds are similarly unequipped  for dealing with windmill blades moving at hundreds of miles per hour.

21. Coolidge
DonG (CAGW is a Hoax)
@DonG

iWe:

There is a near-vacuum on the back side of the blade. Just going suddenly from normal pressure to near-vacuum can cause a variety of injuries, including bursting the lungs of bats and birds.

A good article, but I challenge the idea of the “near-vacuum”. A well designed blade (like a well designed airplane wing) will have laminar flow and little turbulence and only a small drop in pressure across the surface.

The blades produce strong turbulence in their wake. If you see a windmill installation with multiple rows of turbines, only the ones in front are generating any worthwhile power. The companies building them don’t care, they get subsidies for the number of towers they put up, not the amount of power they produce. Turbulence is one of the major reason that no industrial wind “farm” produces more than 55% of its rated capacity even in the best conditions.

I assume that the airflow will go over a sea of turbines just as the air would flow over a forest, rather than through a forest.  I will have to read up on the capacity ratings for turbines.   It is certainly the case that government subsidies disrupt the “market” for wind power.

22. Member
philo
@philo

iWe: …since these large predators too are on the hunt and somewhat oblivious to their surroundings…

I’m not really going to argue against the theory or the larger point but…this line stirs the skeptic in me. As I play my part in the game of fetch with my labs, I am always amazed by how their vision works…how fast they track changes in direction of the target as they maneuver around various objects while running at top speed. I’ve read quite a bit about dogs. I have not read or studied much about birds or prey. (Other than what I picked up about Nate Romanowski’s birds during my drive-time audio book sessions.) But that skeptic sense is still stirred…

I see your point but I have noticed that certain man-made obstacles do not seem to be comprehended by creatures. For instance, squirrels and deer seem to not have any sense when it comes to running out in front of moving vehicles. You’d think that as soon as they saw or heard a car or truck coming that they would run for cover.

The closest I ever came to hitting a deer was when I drove on Interstate 90 through New York at 1:00 in the morning. I was literally the only car on the road, traveling at 65 mph with my bright lights on and making louder than average car noise. Out of nowhere a deer decides to jump right in front of me to cross the highway. I don’t remember if I even had time to hit the brakes because he came within about 12 feet of being smashed. No rational animal or human would run right into such an obvious and visible danger. It’s possible that their senses are not equipped to deal with objects moving faster and looking different than normal fauna. I wouldn’t be surprised if many birds are similarly unequipped for dealing with windmill blades moving at hundreds of miles per hour.

Yes, another data point worth considering. Thanks.

23. Reagan
GLDIII Purveyor of Splendid Malpropisms
@GLDIII

95% of “personkind” can’t even pass High School Physics, and are thus energy illiterate on how so much of their cushy lives are tied to a robust use of swapping their labors for cheap energy.

There was a reason our lives were more along the Hobbesian angle (solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short).  Prior to the enlightenment life was hard, the most important part was the realization and quantification that heat was equivalent to work, and thus could be substitute for back breaking labor. It seems we are going to get a re-education on this principle soon if we continue to let the Greens dictate our energy intensive farming practices back to “organic” and that Sri Lanka and the Netherland are just the warning shots to societies of starvation.

24. Coolidge
Red Herring
@EHerring

Speaking of global warming , sad news, we lost a man who pushed back against the greenie weenies.

25. Thatcher
RushBabe49
@RushBabe49

Speaking of  birds and insects, in 2020 on our way to South Dakota, we stopped at a rest area in Eastern Washington.  We noticed that the front of the car was thick with dead bugs, as normal for that area.  However, while inspecting the car, I noticed some mighty unusual bird behavior.  A couple of juncos were walking around under the car, and jumping up and down.  I figured out that they were trying to get at the bugs smashed under the front bumper!  They did get some, and were fun to watch.  We were happy to have provided them with a nice snack.

26. Member
Bishop Wash
@BishopWash

Steven Seward (View Comment):
It’s possible that their senses are not equipped to deal with objects moving faster and looking different than normal fauna.  I wouldn’t be surprised if many birds are similarly unequipped  for dealing with windmill blades moving at hundreds of miles per hour.

I saw a study some years ago looking at birds and planes, but don’t remember the details. There was a window where it seemed birds couldn’t judge the speed of a plane.

27. Coolidge
iWe
@iWe

Steven Seward (View Comment):
It’s possible that their senses are not equipped to deal with objects moving faster and looking different than normal fauna. I wouldn’t be surprised if many birds are similarly unequipped for dealing with windmill blades moving at hundreds of miles per hour.

I saw a study some years ago looking at birds and planes, but don’t remember the details. There was a window where it seemed birds couldn’t judge the speed of a plane.

Animals seem to want to see movement inside movement. For example: deer do not move away from a coasting cyclist. But when that bicyclist pumps their legs, the deer scram.

Wind turbine blade speed and behavior is far outside bird and bat instinct. Otherwise birds and bats would not be blended at such ridiculous numbers.

28. Member
Saint Augustine
@SaintAugustine

MarciN (View Comment):
Fossil fuel use allows human beings to deliver heat-producing energy where they need it. It disburses the release of heat and electrical energy.

While releasing CO2 into the air for the trees. They like it, and they’re spreading. Or so I heard on a Delingpod episode from a contrarian scientist.

I’d like to hear the greenies refute the claim that the earth is greening rapidly, or credit it to something other than fossil fuels if they can, or explain why it’s bad.

29. Member
MarciN
@MarciN

MarciN (View Comment):
Fossil fuel use allows human beings to deliver heat-producing energy where they need it. It disburses the release of heat and electrical energy.

While releasing CO2 into the air for the trees. They like it, and they’re spreading. Or so I heard on a Delingpod episode from a contrarian scientist.

I’d like to hear the greenies refute the claim that the earth is greening rapidly, or credit it to something other than fossil fuels if they can, or explain why it’s bad.

And trees and grass are cooling. And I notice the rich people have both in abundance. They know.

30. Coolidge
kedavis
@kedavis

MarciN (View Comment):
Fossil fuel use allows human beings to deliver heat-producing energy where they need it. It disburses the release of heat and electrical energy.

While releasing CO2 into the air for the trees. They like it, and they’re spreading. Or so I heard on a Delingpod episode from a contrarian scientist.

I’d like to hear the greenies refute the claim that the earth is greening rapidly, or credit it to something other than fossil fuels if they can, or explain why it’s bad.

And trees and grass are cooling. And I notice the rich people have both in abundance. They know.

I’m not so sure that many rich people are that smart.  They might only get as far as “ooh, pretty!”