Cats are Number One Threat to Birds

March 29, 2011 by  
Filed under Features

According to a report by the American Bird conservancy, cats are responsible for the deaths of between 500 million to one billion birds each year in the United States. These figures include birds killed by feral and domestic cats, and many cat owners have had the experience of being presented with a feathered ‘gift’ from their furry felines. Following a study, the results of which were presented in the Journal of Ornithology, research scientist at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, Peter Marra, confirms that cats wreak havoc on bird populations in both urban and suburban areas.

Although these studies only serve to confirm what bird-lovers have known all along, that cats are enemy number one to birds, having this confirmed by scientists has been helpful in dealing with the controversy of wind-turbines and bird deaths. With the growing demand for renewable and alternative energy sources, wind turbines are getting a lot of attention. The European Wind Energy Association held its annual event in Brussels, Belgium, on 14-17 March 2011, with up to 200 top speakers addressing the more than 8,000 visitors on various issues related to using wind to generate energy. It has been reported that up to 440,000 birds are killed annually by flying into wind turbines in the United States. While the figures seems high, when compared to the number of birds killed by domestic cats alone, it becomes clear that cats pose far more danger to birds than wind turbines do.

In the study conducted by Peter Marra and fellow scientific researchers, radio transmitters were attached to fledgling Gray Catbirds in an effort to document the factors that influenced their chances of survival. The results revealed that predators were responsible for up to 80 percent of deaths among the birds being monitored, with close to half of the predators being domestic cats. Directly related to the number of cats in the area, the fledglings had a survival rate of between 20 and 50 percent. It has been shown, especially in closed ecosystems such as islands, that cats play a significant role in declining bird populations, even hunting some bird species into extinction.

The bottom line is that the leading cause of bird deaths in the United States is collisions with buildings, windows and towers, with predators being the second most common cause. While wind turbines do lead to bird deaths, this needs to be seen in relation to the value of turbines as an alternative energy source – bearing in mind that the family cat is a far greater threat to bird populations.

Wind Power Threat to Birds

February 15, 2011 by  
Filed under Features

Every country around the world is looking for alternative energy sources that will not harm the environment, as conservation of our planet has been at the forefront of many political discussions. Even though new technologies are being developed, every change made does have an impact on the environment in some way. Creating energy from wind also poses danger to the wildlife, especially to the lives of birds. The Fish and Wildlife Service in the United States has asked government to implement guidelines to energy developers, as rising bird deaths are causing great concern.

Wind energy operations could lead to the deaths of millions of birds if the correct guidelines are not put in place. In the year 2005, a report was released to highlight the threat to birds through manmade structures such as wind turbines, towers, power lines and telecommunication towers. The numbers were staggering, estimating that more than five hundred million birds were being killed by collisions with these structures in one year in the United States. The 2009 report released by the Fish and Wildlife Service showed that wind turbines were the causes of approximately four hundred and forty thousand bird deaths. Protecting vital bird species, such as bald eagles and golden eagles, is essential and the deaths of so many other birds are creating an imbalance in sensitive ecosystems. Ken Salazar, Interior Secretary, commented on the guidelines proposal by saying: “We have a responsibility to ensure that solar, wind and geothermal projects are built in the right way and in the right places so they protect our natural and cultural resources and balance the needs of our wildlife.”

Even though the American Bird Conservancy knows that the guidelines will not eliminate bird deaths completely, it will save millions of bird lives as the wind industry grows. Vice President of the American Bird Conservancy, Mike Parr, commented: “Let’s not fast-track wind energy at the expense of America’s birds. Just a few small changes need to be made to make wind bird-smart, but without these, wind power simply can’t be considered a green technology.” Bird groups and foundations are hoping that their guidelines will be taken seriously by the government, in order for technology to develop without damaging the environment.

Wind Turbines Won’t Harm Birds in the Fens

October 8, 2008 by  
Filed under Features

It seems to be a glaringly obvious concern – will the installation of additional wind farms in lowland agricultural areas in the UK cause birds to abandon the area? They are, after all, very noisy, large and full of movement. New research suggests that the answer to this all-important question is no.

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