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Geese Learning to Avoid Wind Farms

As they migrate across the U.K. from Iceland, pink-footed geese have changed their itinerary to avoid wind farms.

That’s encouraging news to bird protection groups, who have been seeing large numbers of birds coming to a sorry end as they run the gauntlet of the growing number of wind farms around the world. [readon]


In a study conducted by Pawel Plonczkier and Ian Simms of Britain’s Food and Environment Research Agency, the researchers observed the flight patterns of geese over a four-year period following the completion of an offshore wind farm. In the Journal of Applied Ecology they report that as the finishing touches were applied to the wind generators, the geese began taking an alternate route when looking to overwinter in the UK.

Bird conservation groups were especially concerned about the fact that geese find it difficult to change course in midflight and because they often fly at night, when it’s more difficult to see obstacles in their path.

The researchers began their observations after the towers were built, but before the generators were added, back in 2007. They used radar to track the movements of approximately 40,000 geese as they migrated over a four year time frame. Gradually, it became clear that the birds were intentionally avoiding the wind farm, clearly understanding the danger it represented.

This is, of course, just a single case, and we have yet to fully understand the danger posed by wind farms to birds, bats and other flying creatures.