Scientists Have Simple Idea to Reduce Bird Deaths

They suggests painting one blade of wind turbines black
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 27, 2020 2:01 PM CDT
Low-Tech Fix Could Reduce Bird Deaths at Wind Farms
Stock image of a wind farm off the coast of Denmark.   (Getty/TebNad)

A relatively simple solution could reduce the number of bird deaths from wind farms: Paint one of the rotating blades black. So say researchers in a new study published in Ecology and Evolution. They found that painting one of three blades black reduced fatal bird strikes by about 70% annually. One caveat: The study was relatively small-scale. The researchers tried the experiment at the Smola wind farm in Norway, which has 68 wind turbines, reports the BBC. They painted one blade on each of four turbines black and found that six birds were killed over the next three years after flying into the blades, per Ars Technica. By contrast, 18 birds were killed by four turbines without the black paint.

"Applying contrast painting to the rotor blades significantly reduced the collision risk for a range of birds," write the researchers. They added that the remedy should be implemented during the manufacture of the blades, rather than after the turbines are in place, in order to be cost-effective. While wind power is a growing industry, critics (including President Trump) have pointed to bird deaths as a drawback. A wildlife charity official quoted by the BBC praises the research but says the first important step for any wind farm remains figuring out the safest place to locate it. (More wind farms stories.)

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