Spinning off recent solar conversations, I became interested in the question of whether energy-generating wind turbines actually contribute measurably to bird deaths. Solar Dude had told me straight up that there were only two confirmed bird kills at Altamont Pass. Meanwhile, commentators on the right have called wind turbines “Cuisinarts of the Sky” and worse. Looking for some actual data, came up with a fairly comprehensive research piece (PDF) at Home Power Magazine.
Summary: Solar Dude lied. There had been 183 bird deaths at Altamont at the time the article was written. But Altamont is apparently unique among wind farms. Most wind farms report ZERO bird deaths. The Altamont paradox is a black eye (and merits continued research), but it is not an argument against wind power in general. Now take this in:
… automobiles are responsible for some 57 million bird deaths every year … More than 97 million birds die by flying into plate glass every year … And about 1.5 million birds die from collisions with structures (such as towers, stacks, bridges, buildings) every year. … Viewed in this context, the 183 bird deaths in the Altamont Pass over a two year period of time is a small number indeed. It will take wind turbines in the Altamont Pass 500 to 1000 years to kill as many birds as the Exxon Valdez oil spill.