North Carolina is blessed with tremendous natural beauty. From Manteo to Murphy, the Old North State incorporates a wealth of ecological diversity. In particular, our state is well known for its abundant bird life. Waterfowl, turkey, and quail hunting are some of our oldest traditions, and preserving that natural heritage is important in order to ensure our descendants can enjoy all we have now.
Wind power may be part of that clean, renewable future. Wind farms, which harness the wind to generate electricity, are a clean alternative to traditional energy sources. And due to our unique geography, North Carolina may be the perfect place to unroll wide-scale wind farming.
But what does that mean for our birds? Many critics of wind farming have suggested that wind farms with their spinning blades may result in the deaths of countless birds. As a large number of species pass over North Carolina every year, traveling down the Atlantic flyway, the possible impact goes much further than our state’s borders. Are we killing off our avian life in the name of clean energy?
As it turns out, the answer is “no.” Wind farm technologies have proven environmentally sound, even for birds. Those large spinning blades in the sky may seem dangerous to flying things, but the reality is a bit different. Let’s take a look at the facts about birds and wind farming.
Straight Talk About Birds and Wind Farming
First off, we’ll run through the numbers, starting with how human activity actually causes bird deaths according to Appalachian State University:
Wind turbines cause 1 – 2 bird deaths per year per turbine.
- 60 million birds die annually in collisions with vehicles
- 98 million per year in collisions with buildings
- 46 million turkeys were eaten on Thanksgiving alone in 2012
So where do the misunderstandings about birds and wind farming come from? As it turns out, several groups of concerned conservationists asked some important questions about the impact wind farming might have, and sought research to get the right answer. However, research takes time, and many different studies had to be done to get to the bottom of things. During that discussion, a lot of people got confused about how wind farms interacted with wildlife. It’s a simple mistake and understandable, but it can’t keep us from moving forward.
While nothing in life is risk-free, the negative impact wind farms will have on birds is at worst minimal. Flightways will not be disrupted in any significant way, and populations will not shrink. Wind farms place no additional stress on the nesting, feeding, or migratory patterns of endangered birds, either. They offer a clean, simple, economical solution to our energy needs with no immediate cost to our wildlife.
But what about the long term or broader implications? There’s good news on that front, too. Wind farms are safer for birds and wildlife than many conventional modes of energy production, ensuring that our state’s rich natural and sporting heritage will remain safe for generations of hunters and outdoorsman to come.
North Carolina is a beautiful place to live and grow, and leaving our natural blessings for generations to come should be one of our priorities. Likewise, we need to develop a strong economy and infrastructure to ensure prosperity. Wind farming gives us a chance to do both.