American Bird Conservancy
Wind Development Bird Risk Map

Click on your state of interest on the map below or go to List of States


Powered by Google Earth Google Earth Instructions

  Wind Developer’s Bird Risk Map


To display additional state bird risk data, just return to the map on this page and click on your next state of interest and that state’s risk areas will be added to your Google Earth view. See below for an alphabetical clickable list of states as an alternative to the map.


The American Bird Conservancy Wind Development Bird Risk Map is a resource for wind developers, regulators, and conservationists. It depicts areas in the United States where wind development is likely to pose an elevated risk to birds: see “MAP LEGEND” below for specific details. Click on ABC’s bird-smart wind principles for more background on ABC’s approach.


  • To view areas where the Department of Energy has determined that average wind speed for wind energy is fair or better click here.
  • To view all wind turbines and associated meteorological tower proposals submitted to the Federal Airport Administration between 2003 and October 2011 click here. To download these to your Google Earth view click here (this large file may take a few minutes to download and will make moving around in Google Earth much slower. It can be used most effectively to show tower proposals in your current view).

Potential Risk (No color)

Wind power (and its associated infrastructure) might be feasible in these areas so long as pre-construction assessments do not indicate an unexpected bird impact or habitat problem for a specific location, if construction and operational mitigation, monitoring, and compensation are implemented; and there are no legal impediments (see bird-smart wind guidelines for more details).

Regardless of their designation on this map, special consideration should be given to all lands protected for nature conservation, and areas in the immediate vicinity of wetlands where birds often tend to congregate. ABC would recommend against constructing wind projects in or near these areas. The phrase "Potential Risk" should not be interpreted as meaning "safe" for wind power as additional data may later suggest that some Potential Risk areas need to have their risk status upgraded. In all cases, developers should consult with stakeholders such as local bird clubs and Audubon chapters to gather as much additional data by site as possible prior to making a final siting decision. 

High Risk

The development of wind power in these areas and their immediate environs is likely to pose a significantly elevated risk to birds and should be avoided.

Orange: High Importance

Solid orange signifies Globally Important Bird Areas (click here for a definition and more information). Areas shown in a tint of orange are either: 1). Key Migration Corridors where bird risk will differ from season to season, and may also differ from year to year between specific locations within the corridor; 2). Key Habitat Areas for birds on the Red WatchList (plus both widespread eagle species, and Ferruginous Hawk), where the species may not be present all year round, and birds are also likely to be most at risk from wind development where their optimal habitat is found within the tinted area; or 3). Marine Important Bird Areas where bird usage is also seasonal. It might be possible to develop wind within some of these tinted areas if seasonal shutdowns during migration are feasible, or if micro-siting can enable the key habitat areas to be completely avoided.

Red: Critical Importance

Wind power (and its associated infrastructure) is not appropriate for any of these areas and their immediate environs. These areas include:

  • Important Bird Areas with congregations of 500,000 or more migratory birds at some point during the year.
  • Important Bird Areas for the very rarest WatchList birds—or those that have very specific and limited habitat requirements and/or are especially likely to be vulnerable to wind-related mortality or habitat impacts.
  • Critical Habitat designated for bird species listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
  • Important habitat for bird species listed under the ESA for which ESA Critical Habitat has not yet been designated
  • The very highest importance “bottleneck areas” for migrant birds, such as those where 500,000 or more birds are present seasonally.

The data presented on this map are derived from a variety of sources. Examples of primary sources include ABC’s list of the 500 most Important Bird Areas in the U.S., data on key sage-grouse areas from the Bureau of Land Management, and data on the migration corridor of the Whooping Crane from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). “Critical Habitat” designated by FWS as authorized by the Endangered Species Act was downloaded from the FWS website. The map will be updated as soon as additional data become available.

Site boundaries are either provided by existing federal or other Geographic Information System layers, or produced by ABC using the best available data, maps, and expert staff opinion. There is currently insufficient quantitative data available to set numeric boundaries for the “edges” of most migration corridors, and these may also change from year to year depending on weather and other conditions. The boundaries of these areas are therefore set on the map based on ABC’s best expert judgment as to where the greatest concentration of birds will be present during regular migration periods. Another very useful source on migration patterns are the animated migration maps produced by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. Click here to view examples.

Boundaries for Key Habitat Areas are based on greatest breeding densities from Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) maps combined with expert staff opinion. For the few Red WatchList species where BBS data was unavailable, entire species range boundaries were used.

This map should be used as a guide, and is not intended to provide completely definitive data on whether wind power is safe for birds at any specific site. Pre-construction studies should be undertaken for any proposed location, and stakeholders should be consulted to gather as much additional data by site as possible prior to making a final siting decision. 

Note: We would like to thank the National Audubon Society for providing data for Important Bird Areas they and their chapters have identified down to the state level. These sites are primarily available in the form of point data at the present time (click here to download). We would also like to thank California, Illinois, Montana, and North Carolina State Audubon Chapters for making their state IBAs available in polygon form (these are included in the main map). Additional state IBA polygons will be included on the map as they become available.

List of States

Click on a state to download bird risk data.


New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota

Google Earth Instructions

To view risk areas, click on your state of interest on the map or list above to open Google Earth and display the data (needs Google Earth v. 5 or higher). If you do not have Google Earth (or you have an earlier version) click here to download a free copy or update.

When revisiting the map you will only be able to view any data updates made by ABC if you first delete your Google Earth “Temporary Places” (click here for an easy “how to”).

In order to view lower data layers you can click in the left hand column as shown below to temporarily remove upper layers from your view.

Thanks to Random House for allowing the use of the text from Important Bird Areas in the United States.


Thanks also to Jason Berry for his tireless efforts without which this map would not have been possible.


© Copyright American Bird Conservancy 2012.