FAIRHAVEN – Bird deaths by the town’s wind turbines are causing concern among local birders even though some favor alternative energy.
Photos of dead birds were taken by Windwise, which opposes the turbines, and e-mailed to the Advocate. On Tuesday, Windwise member Ken Pottel said someone from the state environmental police is looking into it.
Carolyn Longworth, a dedicated birder, along with being the director of Millicent Library, said, “There are so many osprey platforms in the area of Edgewater Street and young birds are leaving their nests.”
Thus, Ms. Longworth said, it’s inevitable that some young osprey, just learning to fly, would get killed. She said the osprey are getting ready to migrate south.
Ms. Longworth said it’s too late to do much about the siting of the turbines off Arsene Street, but she said it’s a good idea to report the bird deaths.That way, she said, they can maybe pressure future turbine developers to do more prevention.
Ms. Longworth said she’s heard that putting patterns on the blades “so they know it is a solid object” may deter some birds from flying into turbines.
David Cole, who oversees the osprey platforms on the Westport River, said, “By and large, I’m supportive of them,” speaking of wind turbines.
Mr. Cole called turbines “an appropriate and viable” way to generate electricity while reducing the use of fuels that are more harmful environmentally.
He said people can reduce the number of osprey deaths caused by turbines by moving the osprey platforms. Mr. Cole said he’s moved platforms on the Westport River to deal with risks that occur (like speed boaters and predators).
Alan Poole, a Dartmouth resident and editor of Birds of America Online at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, said it’s important to accumulate accurate data. “If osprey are being killed, it’s certainly worth taking note of it,” he said, adding that the deaths of other birds are also of concern.
Mr. Poole, who has also worked on the osprey nests on the Westport River, said if it’s one or two osprey being killed, “It’s not too good, but the fact of the matter is 50 percent of osprey do not survive. We need accurate counts.”
He said it’s important that the information being accumulated not just sit on someone’s desk at Fish & Wildlife, but be made available to the public.
As for wind turbines overall, Mr. Poole said, “Most are not worth all the effort. They require a huge investment with fairly low return.”
Mr. Poole said osprey are not on the endangered list in Massachusetts thanks to the efforts of so many people who’ve built nests and made efforts to revive the population. He said they were on a list of species of concern but are no longer on that list.
Reggie Zimmerman, spokesman for state division of Fish & Wildlife, said while wind turbine companies are asked to provide information on bird deaths, they are not required to report them in Massachusetts.
“There are no requirements for developers to notify Mass Wildlife,” he said, “but we like to be notified so we can put together recommendations for future projects.”
Mr. ZImmerman added, “We hope these collisions will stop.” He said by accumulating data, they can work on avoiding bird deaths in the future.
A study of potential risks to birds from the turbines was conducted prior to the 2007 Town Meeting vote on them and was made available at the time.
Millicent Library has copies of some of the turbine-related studies conducted on its website, including on noise and other issues related to wind turbines.