What kills more birds – Waubra wind farm or two feral cats?

I’m a keen bird watcher and so am interested in the impact of wind farms on bird life. I asked Acciona for statistics on the number of bird fatalities at Waubra and got the following response:

ACCIONA implements a comprehensive bird monitoring program at the Waubra Wind Farm in accordance with Avifauna Management Plan which was approved by the Minister for Planning in October 2006. This Plan was supported by extensive bird surveys of the site prior to commissioning of the wind farm.

The first year of bird mortality searches at the Waubra Wind Farm were completed in 2010. Dead bird searches are done by two highly trained German Short-haired Pointers and their handler. It is a unique survey method that allows a search of large areas of the wind farm to be done in an efficient and cost-effective manner. The dogs have also proven to have a higher searcher efficiency than people.

There were 28 birds found during the first year of mortality searches. No nationally or state threatened species were impacted. Magpies accounted for 43% of all bird collisions.

The extrapolated results for the entire wind farm indicate that 1.65 birds are killed per turbine annually. This can also be presented as 1.1 birds/MW/year.

The mortality rates when compared to wind farms overseas suggest that impacts at Waubra are relatively low. An investigation of 19 wind energy facilities in the USA showed an average rate of 3 birds/MW/year.

I did some hunting around on other threats to bird life, and found by way of comparison, a study of feral cats on Macquarie Island which estimated that each cat would kill around 150 rabbits and 150 sea birds per year (Queensland Department of Primary Industries, Feral Cat Ecology and Control, 2010).

So if my maths is correct, it seems in one year two feral cats may well kill more critters than the whole of the Southern Hemisphere’s largest wind farm.

17 thoughts on “What kills more birds – Waubra wind farm or two feral cats?

  1. As if acciona ever told the truth about anything!
    I called them yesterday to ask how much power had been made in the last week but they didnt want to answer, i wonder why?
    At least you couldnt blame the turbines over the last few weeks, they have barely turned

  2. Gee wizz, they have made so much power in the last 2 weeks they could maybe power a couple of flouresent light globes!

  3. Just checked the Landscape Guardians website and downloaded the Excel data on yesterday’s generation at Warbra. (First time I’ve ever done this – great to have the data available!). The average generation has been around 70MW, which over a day would be 70 x 24 hours = 1680MW hours, or 1680000kWh. Now if the average house uses say 7kWh per day (that might be a bit low, but it’s more than my household daily usage) then the wind farm generated the equivalent of all the electricity for 240000 houses.

  4. I Find it quite odd that acciona do not publish this data, but leave it up to the landscape guardians to do so. I know it is freely available through AEMO, but it is a bit hard to decipher.
    I know many on here seem to think everything the landscape guardians say or do is untrue, but it seems to be excepted that this information is correct? is this the case?

  5. Why should they publish it on their website? Coca-Cola don’t publish their live sales on their website, nor does Coles, Shell or BHP. What obligation has Acciona got to publish the data?

    What’s with the Landscape Guardian’s longrunning obsession with the data? They’ve been claiming for years that companies are secretive, yet the data is publicly available at several sites on the ‘net.

  6. It is enough to put up the uncontrollable ferel cats without adding ferel industries to the bird distinction.There is a chance for humans to control ferel cats but have no control to turn off the killer turbines. TURN THEM OFF

  7. Alex, im not a member of the landscape guardians, but the last time i looked acciona get a fair bit of a handout in the way of monies from the MRET scheme that makes windfarms profitable, last time i looked coca cola didnt, Not sure about shell or bhp though!
    Since they get what is basically a subsidy then i think it should only be fair that the public see the results of this extra money they are paying to acciona that they would otherwise not be paying, what is not fair about this?
    Also wouldnt you like to know if wind energy really worked or not? where are you getting data to make your assumptions from? or is just made up?

  8. Sammy’s post inspires me to say i really look forard to the day when the antis stop obsessing about wind and look at the bigger picture when it comes to ‘handouts’.

    Like the fact that the total subsidies to fossil fuels are worth almost $9 billion a year (by very conservative estimates – the ACF recently did the figures and came up with far more than that).

    The HRL coal plant in the Latrobe Valley will get $150 million in subsidies from the State and federal governments …

    then there is all the R&D money that goes to fossil fuels.
    etc, etc

    What ‘results’ do we get from all this money? It mostly just helps the companies bottom line profits. Why don’t you get upset about that?

    Funny how we never hear from the antis about these *massive* inputs of public funds, just the relatively miserly cash that goes to renewables.

    Also, its interesting how obsessed a few antis are with this website. I don’t bother posting on a landscape guardians/ anti site, what would i hope to get from doing that? The few that do exist mostly don’t even allow you the ability to post comments, but thats another story.

    Its starting to seem a little obsessive to me. If you’re so convinced you’re right, why don’t you go to the effort and set up your own methods of communicating with the public – and allow a debate/ comment option on those sites, rather than endlessly complaining on this one? I do know its far easier to rain on someone elses parade than organise one for yourself, but it might do you some good, it might also force you to articulate what you do believe in, rather than endlessly complaining about what you don’t like

    Complaint is easy. Vision takes a little more effort.

  9. Last week you wanted me to tell you my last name and where i live, was that not enough?
    If your not open to sensible discussion from so called “antis” then you really have no right to make any comment yourself.
    By the way Cam, under what governemt scheme do fossil fuels get handouts? ive heard this mentioned many times by people, but have been unable to find a scheme set up to direct funds their way, im not saying its untrue, but just unsure where it is. Money for research is also spent on renewable energy. Prehaps more should be spend on research so that forms of renewables that will actually make a difference can be developed. If fossil fuels do indeed get a subsidy then yes i would expect them to disclose their figures also, If taxpayers are funding anything it should be open and transparent to scrutiny.
    One of the things i find amusing is the love for wind power over all other forms of renewables from many on this website, there are many other forms of renewables that appear to work much more consistantly and on demand than wind power, why is there not more of a push for the likes of tidal, geothermal, hydro?

  10. hi Sammy
    thanks for that info, it means i take you as being a ‘real’ person rather than anonymous poster.

    I would really have to question whether many of the comments from the antis are very sensible.

    I think my point was pretty clear. This is a pro renewables website. We are defending wind in particular because of the noisy ‘anti’ minority who seem so obsessed with the issue. We are interested in having conversations with a range of people, but the endless negativity by a few regular posters gets, frankly, very boring. If you feel so strongly about the issue, why don’t you set up your own site where you can spend all day building a case against wind power? The need to nit pick endlessly by people such as yourself just doesn’t speak well about your intentions, or the intentions of the ‘antis’ in general (thats why i use that word for those who are ideologically opposed to wind – it seems they are very good at being against things, but so rarely speak out FOR things. And frankly, i just don’t think its good enough).

    As i said in my last post, complaint is easy. Vision takes a little more effort. I’d love to see a bit more vision from the antis and a bit less whingeing.

    We are big fans of the other renewable energy sources as well as wind. There are regular posts on other renewable issues, and i am very inspired by the recent developments around the Protean technology in particular.

    Wrt the fossil fuel subsidies issue, this is a fairly good intro, with link to recent ACF report: http://www.thefifthestate.com.au/archives/20892
    As it says in the intro article, the subsidies are ‘built into the tax system as automatic deductions or rebates or exemptions for taxpayers, corporate or individual’.

  11. Hi Val,

    Even though feral cats kill birds in huge numbers, birds and particularly vulnerable birds are at risk as climate change destroys ecosystems and natural environments. So if we stop building wind farms to save birds now, we’re going to lose a lot more down the track.

    Its for this reason that Birds Australia – the peak group for bird conservation in Australia, supports the building of wind farms, so long as its done in a way that limits bird deaths. You can check out their policy at: http://www.birdsaustralia.com.au/policies-positions/policies-and-positions.html

    And even though its off the topic of the original post, there has been a discussion in this thread about subsidies. This quote from a recent Australian Conservation Foundation press release provides some perspective:

    “The Fuel Tax Credits scheme costs Australian taxpayers $5 billion a year, with $ 1.7 billion of this going to big mining companies.

    “In other words, every Australian household in Australia is contributing around $200 a year to allow companies like BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto to not pay a single cent in tax for the diesel they use in their off-road mining operations. This encourages wasteful use of fuels and pollution that is making climate change worse.”

  12. Cam i thought this was a forum where all issues could be discussed, just because you believe wind power works doesnt mean everyone does, I think we have a obligation to discuss the points of why we think something does not work or works.
    I have no reason to set up my own website, and to say there is only a “noisy minority” against windpower is not only foolish but self serving as you try to stifle debate.
    There have been numerous articles and letters in most of the mainstream media in the country in recent years giving information on why windpower does not work, The community is educated to a extent on why other renewable sources are better than wind as it is inconsistant and thus expensive. I have no problems with the look of wind turbines but i find the ecomomic and practicalities of their deployment laughable as many others seem to.
    If wind power worked 24hrs a day 7 days a week then i would suggest it would be a wonderful asset. Although im not to sure on if that link you provided is to credible or if fossil fuels are really being subsidised in the way wind is.

  13. Sammy, what do you mean ‘windpower doesn’t work’? It’s by far the cheapest renewable energy source per MWhour we have at scale and installed capacity has been growing globally at greater than 30% year on year for more than a decade.
    Is it conceivable that you and Peter Lang are right and pretty much every advanced economy electricity company in the world is wrong? Wow, that’s one hell of a conspiracy!
    Anyway, this thread is about birds. I think it is safe to say bird-death myth has been dispatched. Onus is now on the antis to produce hard data refuting this or move on to their other kooky conspiracies.

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