Birds and Wind Development

Wind farm by Joshua Winchell, FWS

Wind Power: It's not smart unless it's bird-smart


Wind development by Joshua Winchell FWS


The Challenge

Wind power has the ability to be a green, bird-friendly form of power generation, but can also adversely affect birds. In 2009, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service estimated that 440,000 birds per year were killed by U.S. wind turbines, and included this figure in the agency’s 2013 budget request to Congress. Birds can die in collisions with the turbine blades, towers, power lines, or related structures, and can also be impacted through habitat destruction from the siting of turbines, power lines, and access roads. Some birds, such as sage-grouse are particularly sensitive to the presence of turbines, and can be scared away from their breeding grounds several miles away from a wind development.


ABC Conservation Framework

This collisions element of this program fits into two the category Eliminating Threatsof within ABC's conservation Framework. Habitat ramifications of wind farms fit under Conserving Habitats.
pyramid icon - habitats pyramid icon


Primary Birds Impacted

Potentially all night-migrating songbirds are at risk of colliding with wind turbines, as are raptors and waterbirds when wind farms are sited in areas they frequent, particularly wildlife refuges. Greater Sage-Grouse are particularly sensitive to the presence of wind turbines near their breeding grounds.



American Bird Conservancy has formally petitioned the U.S. Department of the Interior to protect millions of birds from the negative impacts of wind energy by developing regulations that will safeguard wildlife and reward responsible wind energy development.


The petition, prepared by ABC and the Washington, D.C.-based public interest law firm of Meyer, Glitzenstein & Crystal (MGC), urges the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to create regulations establishing a mandatory permitting system for the operation of wind energy projects and mitigation of their impacts on migratory birds. The proposal would provide industry with legal certainty that wind developers would not be subject to criminal or civil penalties for violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA).

ABC Results

ABC Results Button Thanks to the generous support of the Leon Levy Foundation, ABC has launched the bird-smart wind program to address the threats to birds and their habitats from wind farms, and bring about real policy change to benefit birds. Read ABC's policy statement on wind power and Frequently Asked Questions on wind/bird interactions and ABC's policy.
ABC Results Button More than 60 conservation groups, scientific societies, and businesses have endorsed the principles of Bird-Smart Wind Power.
ABC Results Button Following pressure from ABC and other groups, a federal advisory committee on wind has been created.
ABC Results Button ABC and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology brought all the scientists working on the issue together for the first time to exchange information and ideas at a major national conference.


What Next?

What Next Button Guidelines developed by the federal government on the siting and operation of wind turbines need to become mandatory regulations to have the teeth that will enable them to protect birds at all wind developments.
What Next Button A comprehensive national plan for the Greater Sage-Grouse needs to be completed.
What Next Button Bureau of Land Management sage-grouse plan regulations on wind farm siting need to be brought in line with Fish and Wildlife Service Guidelines
What Next Button Wind developments need to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act
What Next Button Production tax credits and subsidies for wind energy companies need to be tied to environmental compliance.

Take Action

Support ABC's petition for rulemaking to the U.S. Department of the Interior by adding your name to our list of endorsers


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