Rise in Bird Populations Attributable to the Growth of Wind Energy

The weekend – Friday, February 15th through Monday, February 18th – marked the 22nd annual Great Backyard Bird Count, an event in which bird watchers count the birds they see and report their sightings online to aid researchers in keeping track of bird populations worldwide. A Minnesota man, wishing to remain anonymous and living near a wind farm in the Worthington area, went to the wide-open space to try to spot birds in an area bigger than his backyard. He arrived at the large area with a dilemma. He was unsure whether he was able to record birds that he found on the ground. There were hundreds of birds, big and small, strewn about the ground. Some with broken necks, but more with broken wings and an assortment of minor injuries.

Unsure of the regulations on reporting these birds, he recorded his findings of living birds on birdcount.org. He was contacted on Tuesday morning by the National Audubon Society for having found such a high population in an area that had never had such a high reported number. 

The Audubon Society sent a group of eager interns to scout out the area and find the reason for such a drastic spike in the population. They arrived at the wind farm around noon on Wednesday and reported that the information recorded was in fact correct. They also reported the wind turbines as the reason for the sudden spike in the population. The National Audubon Society did not hesitate to publish their confirmed findings that wind turbines greatly increase the number of birds spotted in a particular area.

Heeding the information in the Audubon Society’s publication, Xcel Energy has begun plans to continue its development of wind farms to become 34% of its total energy production by 2021. They are currently building nearly a dozen new wind farms to be completed in the next few years, and with the knowledge that their wind farms have given rise to massive bird population spikes, they are now talking about beginning several more projects in 2020.

Thanks to the efforts of this man and many others for contributing to the Great Backyard Bird Count and to the National Audubon Society’s diligent research and reporting, bird populations should continue to rise along with renewable energy production. As a benefit both to society and to the environment, wind turbines are one of the fastest growing sources of renewable energy and should continue to grow as they decrease the use of fossil fuels and increase the population of birds in the area.