The tragedy of birds and bats

This institute has been studying bird migration routes using radar for 40 years. “A special feature of the Birdscan device is its complete automation: when the density of a flock of birds exceeds a certain threshold, the wind turbine stops functioning, its blades stop,” he told swissinfo. ch ornithologist Felix Liechti.

“The negative impact of wind turbines on the life and migration of birds has been known for a long time and confirmed by numerous studies,” recalls Felix Lichti. “The construction of a wind turbine entails serious changes in the parameters of the habitat, and some species of birds and other animals directly feel all the negative consequences of these processes. The greatest danger, however, is the blades of wind turbines. They are a huge risk factor for both local birds that nest in the region and for migratory ones. “

Indeed, for example, according to the Spanish National Society of Ornithology (SEO / BirdLife), wind generators in this country kill 6 to 18 million birds and bats annually. In North America, tens of thousands of birds die in the blades of wind turbines, including the bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), the symbol of the United States.

How do windmills and birds get along?

These are very alarming numbers, but everything in the world is relative! This is what the proponents of extracting energy from wind power say. They indicate that the main cause of bird death is not the blades of the wind turbine. The vast majority of them die, crashing into the windows of buildings, becoming victims of cats, all kinds of chemicals and traffic. Isabelle Chevalley, Member of Parliament of the Confederation and President of the Association for the Promotion of Wind Energy in Switzerland (Suisse Éole), writes about this, in particular, in her book “The Wind Generator: Between Myth and Reality”.

“The nature of the impact of VEU on bird populations is not fully known to us,” admits Felix Lichti. “Each species is a special case and there are no statistics for them in Switzerland. Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to believe that, they say, a few dead birds “don’t make the weather,” ”he warns. For example, for such a species of birds as the “bearded man” (Gypaetus barbatus), Lichti explains, just two dead birds a year are enough for the state of the population to turn from stable to critical.

Recently, the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (Bundesamt für Umwelt – BAFU) launched a process of interagency coordination and public expertise on its set of regulations governing the construction of wind turbine parks. “The idea is to provide a practical guide to better assess the impact of wind turbines on wildlife, birds and bats, and thus be able to recognize potential conflicts in advance,” explains Reinhard Schnidrig, head of the section “ Hunting, Fishing and Forest Biodiversity “at BAFU.