by Chris Clarke
on January 30, 2013 2:03 PM
A years-long campaign to reduce bird mortality at the Altamont Pass wind turbine area has cut deaths of eagles and three other bird of prey species by about 50 percent since 2005, according to a study completed in November that's just starting to attract some notice. A combination of junking obsolete turbines and paying closer attention to siting seems to have reduced the number of bird deaths at the site.
The study, conducted by the consulting firm ICF International for the Alameda County Community Development Agency, was delivered to the county in November.
According to a recent blog post on the website of the Golden Gate chapter of the National Audubon Society, deaths of four key raptor species dropped significantly from 2005 to 2010:
The estimated number of Golden Eagles killed by turbines each year fell from 58 to 33, Burrowing Owls from 543 to 233, American Kestrels from 415 to 268, and Red-tailed Hawks from 196 to 85.
Golden Gate Audubon's Mike Lynes offers some caveats about the data:
These figures are rough estimates: It's exceedingly difficult to track exact numbers of bird deaths on the sprawling Altamont Pass. And while the data indicate a decline in risks to birds, we know bird injuries and deaths are likely to always result from wind turbine operations.