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Bird species of concern at wind farms in New Zealand

Wind generation currently contributes about 1.5% of New Zealand’s energy production, but the forecast rapid expansion in wind farm construction is likely to take this to close to 20% over the next 10 years. To date, no published studies are available giving accounts of the impacts of wind farms on birdlife in New Zealand; therefore, part of the challenge is to determine which species are likely to be adversely affected by wind farm construction and operation here. This resource document provides a brief summary of the threat ranking, distribution and movements of native and migrant bird species on the North and South Islands of New Zealand, and the potential impacts that wind farms may have on them (displacement, habitat loss and collision fatalities). The following species warrant particular consideration when present as residents in the vicinity of a wind farm, or when likely to be moving through a wind farm area on migration or during local movements: all kiwi, Australasian crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus), all penguins, threatened species of herons and allies, blue duck (Hymenolaimus malacorhynchos), brown teal (Anas aucklandica), New Zealand falcon (Falco novaeseelandiae), waders (Charadrii), and cuckoos. More research is required into the migratory behaviour of several native species to determine which wind farm sites are most likely to result in collision fatalities. In addition, data on the rates of avoidance of wind turbines by birds flying through wind farms is required, especially for those undertaking nocturnal migrations. The number of collision fatalities at New Zealand wind farms needs to be determined using systematic searches that take account of searcher efficiency and scavenger activity.

September 2009

New Zealand Department of Conservation Research & Development Series 317

Download original document: “Bird species of concern at wind farms in New Zealand [1]