Do wind turbines hurt birds?


Wind turbines pose only a tiny danger to bird life. Far greater is climate change, which threatens many species with extinction. Wind power is an important way of reducing that threat.

Question:


Do wind turbines pose a massive threat to birdlife?

Fact:


Only a tiny proportion of bird deaths are due to wind turbines. Climate change poses a much greater threat, and wind power is helping fight this.


Birds under threat from human activities


Every year, millions of birds die as a result of human activities. According to a study from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, there are some direct causes of death, like being hit by cars, flying into tall structures, or being eaten by domestic cats. There are also many indirect causes, like habitat destruction, disruption of ecosystems, and human-caused changes in climate and weather patterns.1

A study in the UK observed only six bird deaths in an offshore wind farm over two years.2

Do wind turbines hurt birds?

Wind turbines cause less than one in 4,000 bird deaths


Recently, wind turbines have received a lot of attention as a cause of death for birds. While it is true that some birds die every year by flying into turbine towers or blades, the actual numbers are negligible. Statistics show that in the United States, wind energy facilities cause less than one in 4,000 documented bird deaths from industrial activities.1
Top threats to birds in the U.S.
Wind turbines kill less than 0.3 million birds per year in North America, less than 0.01% of the total killed
Source: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Climate change the biggest threat


Meanwhile, entire species and ecosystems are threatened by the unprecedented changes to Earth’s atmosphere that we’re already seeing as a consequence of burning fossil fuels. Almost 400 North American bird species are thought to be at risk of extinction as a result of climate change.1

The transition from fossil fuels to clean energy is the biggest step we can take to limit these changes and protect all plant and animal life on Earth

Ørsted is minimizing the impact of wind power on birds


The number of birds impacted by offshore wind turbines may already be small, but Ørsted is committed to ensuring activities related to the further development of offshore wind pose as small a threat to birds as possible.

Before any projects are constructed, environmental impact assessments are conducted. Among other things, this investigates the possible effect a project may have on biodiversity, including all birdlife. This assessment is submitted to the relevant planning and regulatory authorities, like the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, and where feasible, action is taken to mitigate predicted impacts as much as possible.

Continued monitoring takes place throughout the operational life of the wind farm for any impacts to the avian population. On existing projects, this has included carrying out studies to understand the movement of birds in and around turbine structures. On Ocean Wind 1 specifically, a research project has been developed and funded to track Red Knots, a migratory shorebird, with GPS devices to provide information on the offshore movements of the species.

Research and innovation to improve bird safety

Ørsted’s research and development program supports the latest innovations to help reduce the impact of wind farms on birds. Ørsted works with the American Wind Wildlife Institute and invests in new technology to assess projects, improve conservation and implement the latest solutions to protect birds on our wind farms.

What is offshore wind power?

What is offshore wind power?

Offshore wind power explained

How we capture the power of the wind at sea to produce clean, reliable electricity