Recently, in the usually environmentally benign country of Sweden, concerns were raised that European Union (EU) directives designed to protect wild birds were twice knowingly violated. Put simply, EU member states are not supposed to put energy-generating wind turbines where they pose a specific, predictable risk to species protected under the directive, specifically white-tailed eagles, red kites, and rough-legged buzzards (known as rough-legged hawks in the US). Swedish law prohibits "deliberate" capture and killing of wild birds, although what constitutes "deliberate" has become a matter of debate. Sweden erected wind turbines where those species occur.
The use of wind turbines has staunch advocates and equally staunch critics, and both have, at times fervently, sought my endorsement. But, I cannot pick sides. It is a complex issue with valid points made by each side.
Years ago, I visited the notorious Altamont Pass wind turbines in California. A huge array of wind turbines were mounted on a ridge in the direct path of migrating birds of prey, who died there in the thousands: about 1,300 hawks and eagles, plus another 1,000 or more birds of other species per year, when birds and turbine blades collided. Slowly, the 4,930 original turbines are being replaced with more modern devices said to be less dangerous to the birds, but still directly in the flight path of migrating raptors who seek the same winds that drive the turbines. In Sweden, it has been roughly calculated that the turbines would kill about one white-tailed eagle every five years, one red kite (a large, hawk-like bird) every seven years, and one rough-legged buzzard every eight years.
Meanwhile, where I live, in southern Ontario, towering wind turbines are fairly commonplace - especially in southwestern Ontario, which is flat farmland largely denuded of its native forests. And, there is a heated battle over their use.