THE JOURNAL OF RAPTOR RESEARCH
VOL.52 NO.1MARCH 2018
J. Raptor Res. 52(1):1–18
!2018 The Raptor Research Foundation, Inc.
RAPTOR INTERACTIONS WITH WIND ENERGY: CASE STUDIES FROM
AROUND THE WORLD
RICHARD T. WATSON
The Peregrine Fund, 5668 West Flying Hawk Lane, Boise, ID 83709 U.S.A.
PATRICK S. KOLAR
Raptor Research Center, Department of Biological Science, Boise State University, 1910 University Drive, Boise, ID
Delegacio´n del CSIC en Andaluc´
ıa – Casa de la Ciencia, Avda. de Mª Luisa, s/n Pabello´n del Per ´
u, 41013 Sevilla,
TORGEIR NYG ˚
Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, Høgskoleringen 9, 7034 Trondheim, Norway
Ecosystem Science and Management, University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, British Columbia,
W. GRAINGER HUNT
The Peregrine Fund, 5668 West Flying Hawk Lane, Boise, ID 83709 U.S.A.
HANNELINE A. SMIT-ROBINSON
BirdLife South Africa, Private Bag X5000, Parklands, 2121, South Africa
Applied Behavioural Ecological & Ecosystem Research Unit (ABEERU), UNISA, Private Bag X6, Florida, 1717,
CHRISTOPHER J. FARMER
DNV GL – Energy, 4377 County Line Road, Chalfont, PA 18914 U.S.A.
USGS Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center, 3200 SW Jefferson Way, Corvallis, OR 97331 U.S.A.
TODD E. KATZNER
USGS Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center, 970 Lusk Street, Boise, ID 83706 U.S.A.
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT.—The global potential for wind power generation is vast, and the number of installations is
increasing rapidly. We review case studies from around the world of the effects on raptors of wind-energy
development. Collision mortality, displacement, and habitat loss have the potential to cause population-level
effects, especially for species that are rare or endangered. The impact on raptors has much to do with their
behavior, so careful siting of wind-energy developments to avoid areas suited to raptor breeding, foraging, or
migration would reduce these effects. At established wind farms that already conflict with raptors, reduction
of fatalities may be feasible by curtailment of turbines as raptors approach, and offset through mitigation of
other human causes of mortality such as electrocution and poisoning, provided the relative effects can be
quantified. Measurement of raptor mortality at wind farms is the subject of intense effort and study,
especially where mitigation is required by law, with novel statistical approaches recently made available to
improve the notoriously difficult-to-estimate mortality rates of rare and hard-to-detect species. Global
standards for wind farm placement, monitoring, and effects mitigation would be a valuable contribution to
raptor conservation worldwide.
KEY WORDS:avoidance;collision;displacement;energy;mitigation;mortality;raptor;renewable energy;wind farm;wind
INTERACCIONES DE AVES RAPACES CON LA ENERG´
IA E ´
OLICA: CASOS DE ESTUDIO DE TODO EL
RESUMEN.—El potencial global para la generacio´ n de energ´ıa eo´lica es enorme y las infraestructuras para su
generacio´n aumentan de manera acelerada. Revisamos casos de estudio de todo el mundo sobre los efectos
del desarrollo de la energ´ıa eo´lica en aves rapaces. La mortandad por colisiones, el desplazamiento y la
pe´rdida de ha´bitat tienen el potencial de causar efectos a nivel poblacional, especialmente en especies que
son raras o se encuentran en peligro. El impacto sobre las aves rapaces esta´ muy relacionado con su
comportamiento, por lo que el emplazamiento cuidadoso de proyectos de energ´ıa eo´lica que eviten a´ reas
adecuadas para cr´ıa, alimentacio´n o migracio´n de rapaces puede reducir dichos efectos. La reduccio´ n de
mortalidad en parques eo´licos ya establecidos y que presentan conflictos con aves rapaces, puede ser posible
mediante la reduccio´ n de la actividad de las turbinas en momentos de presencia de rapaces y la
compensacio´ n a trave´s de la mitigacio´n de otras causas humanas de mortalidad como electrocucio´n o
envenenamiento, en la medida que los efectos relativos puedan ser medidos. Cuantificar la mortalidad de
rapaces en parques eo´ licos es objeto de estudios intensos, especialmente en aquellos lugares donde la
mitigacio´n es requerida por ley, con aproximaciones estad´ısticas novedosas disponibles recientemente que
mejoran la estimacio´ n de las tasas de mortalidad, que son particularmente complicadas de estimar en
especies raras y de dif´ıcil deteccio´ n. El desarrollo de esta´ndares globales para la ubicacio´n, el seguimiento y la
mitigacio´n de los efectos producidos por los parques eo´licos sera´n una contribucio´ n valiosa para la
conservacio´ n de rapaces en todo el mundo.
[Traduccio´n del equipo editorial]
Wind-energy production worldwide has increased
rapidly in the last decade; wind power was the
leading source of new power generating capacity in
Europe and the United States in 2015 and the
second largest in China. Globally, a record 63
gigawatts (GW) of wind-energy production was
added in 2015 for a total of about 433 GW (REN21
2016). China currently leads the world with 145 GW
of installed capacity, about a third of the world’s total
wind power (Davidson et al. 2016), followed by the
United States (74 GW), Germany (45 GW), India (25
GW), Spain (23 GW), Italy (9 GW), and Japan (3
GW; REN21 2016). The potential for wind-power
generation globally is vast, potentially supplying .40
times the current worldwide consumption of elec-
tricity, and .5 times the total global use of energy in
all forms (Lu et al. 2009).
Attempts to measure and mitigate the effects of
wind turbines on wildlife have been an integral part
of wind-energy development. Raptors are among the
species known to be most strongly affected by wind
turbines, mostly through direct mortality and
secondarily through habitat alteration and loss. In
the United States, eagle mortality and mitigation
strategies have received most attention because of
eagles’ legal status under the Bald and Golden Eagle
Protection Act. The negative effects of wind turbines
on other raptor species are less well understood, and
2 VOL. 52, NO.1
WATSON ET AL.
corresponding mitigation responses less well devel-
This review of case studies illustrates the global
state of knowledge of the effects of wind-energy
development on raptors and is derived from nine
presentations at a symposium at the 2015 Raptor
Research Foundation annual conference. We begin
with an overview of raptor species affected by wind
farms worldwide. We introduce case studies of
effects of wind farms on raptors from Spain, Norway,
Canada, United States, and southern Africa, and
follow with an evaluation of the challenges of
measuring fatalities of raptors at wind farms and
how they may be overcome. We discuss conclusions
in common among the case studies, directions for
future research, and potential offset and mitigation
As the production of wind energy increases
worldwide, adverse effects of turbines and develop-
ment activities have been documented for many
avian groups, especially raptors. The risk of collisions
is highly variable and dependent upon a complex
interaction of site, season, and species-speciﬁc
factors (Marques et al. 2014). Of these factors,
foraging and territorial behaviors (Barrios and
Rodr´ıguez 2004, Hoover and Morrison 2005, Small-
wood et al. 2009), the interaction of wind and
topography (Barrios and Rodr´ıguez 2004, de Lucas
et al. 2008), and limitations in the degree to which
raptors perceive turbines as dangerous (Martin et al.
2012, May et al. 2015, Hunt and Watson 2016) are
thought to contribute to collisions of a number of
species worldwide. However, most factors associated
with collision risk are related to speciﬁc study areas
or relatively common species, making it difﬁcult to
determine if those factors pose similar risk to
uncommon species or those found in other areas.
The search effort during post-construction fatality
monitoring is rarely sufﬁcient to locate all individ-
uals killed by wind turbines, making it impossible to
conclude that rare species are not affected even if
none are found (Beston et al. 2015, Huso et al.
Bird species that share ﬂight morphology are
more likely to forage similarly, and thus many of the
species killed regularly at turbines are taxonomically
related (Herrera-Alsina et al. 2013). For example,
Red-tailed Hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) and American
Kestrels (Falco sparverius) found at wind-energy
projects in the western U.S., especially the Altamont
Pass Wind Resource Area (hereafter Altamont;
Smallwood and Thelander 2008, ICF International
2015), make up the majority of known global
fatalities for Buteo hawks and small falcons, respec-
tively. Where other Buteo and Falco species, such as
Common Buzzards (Buteo buteo)inGermany
(Ho¨ tker et al. 2006), Eurasian Kestrel (Falco tinnun-
culus) in Europe (Ho¨ tker et al. 2006, Gr¨
unkorn et al.
2016), and the Nankeen Kestrel (Falco cenchroides)
and Brown Falcon (Falco berigora)inAustralia
(Smales 2015) interact with turbines, they likewise
appear to show the same high risk of collisions.
Where congeneric species exist together, the more
abundant species is more often found among
collision victims. Red-tailed Hawks composed the
largest percentage of raptors (22%, Johnson and
Erickson 2011) found during post-construction
fatality monitoring at wind-energy projects through-
out the Columbia Plateau Ecoregion (CPE) in
Oregon and Washington and nested in higher
densities (1.6 pairs/100 km
) compared with sym-
patric Buteo species such as Swainson’s Hawks (Buteo
swainsoni; 9% of fatalities, Johnson and Erickson
2011; 1.4 pairs/100 km
, Erickson et al. 2002).
However, in other areas of the CPE where the
density of Swainson’s Hawk pairs was greater (8.8
), they instead composed the majority
of reported raptor fatalities (45%) compared with
Red-tailed Hawks (8%, P. Kolar and M. Bechard
pers. comm.) that nested at half the density (4.4
, Kolar 2013). These observations
imply that nesting density is important in determin-
ing the probability of turbine collisions, but the
evidence of such a relationship from other studies
has been mixed (Marques et al. 2014). Predicting
collision rates based on abundance of raptors
through standardized point counts during pre-
construction surveys has been criticized for its poor
correlation, likely because collision risk also depends
on ﬂight behavior, which can vary with differences in
topographic features between wind-energy project
sites (de Lucas et al. 2008, Ferrer et al. 2012).
Abundance may still be a useful indicator of
collisions, but may be best interpreted in relation
to the spatial distribution of breeding pairs at larger
spatial scales and when assessing fatality rates relative
to similar species within raptor groups rather than
predicting the number of fatalities at individual
wind-energy projects (Carrete et al. 2012).
In some speciﬁc cases, collision deaths have been
suspected or implicated in population-level effects.
The few known collisions of local White-tailed Hawks
MARCH 2018 3
RAPTORS AND WIND ENERGY WORLDWIDE
southern Mexico have generated concern that the
area may become a local population sink for this
relatively common and nonmigratory species, espe-
cially in the light of planned increase in develop-
ment (Ledec et al. 2011). Likewise, prior to
repowering at the Altamont, the number of Burrow-
ing Owl (Athene cunicularia) fatalities at older-
generation turbines was reported to be similar to
the number of breeding pairs at the facility (Small-
wood et al. 2007). Collisions of Egyptian Vultures
(Neophron percnopterus) in Spain, where 80% of its
European breeding population is located, have
contributed to a local population decline (Carrete
et al. 2009). The population of Red Kites (Milvus
milvus) in Germany is predicted to decline due to
additional mortality from turbine collision (Belle-
baum et al. 2013). Gr¨
unkorn et al. (2016) also
predicted the Red Kite population in Germany
would decline, along with the widespread Common
Buzzard that nests in the region in high densities but
has not been considered in the planning process of
wind turbine construction.
Species from some raptor groups, such as some
kites, large falcons, and Accipiters, are infrequently
observed during raptor use surveys and just as
infrequently found as collision fatalities worldwide.
Others, such as harriers and New World vultures are
seldom found as collision fatalities, even when wind-
energy projects are constructed in areas of known
high population density (Erickson et al. 2002,
Ho¨ tker et al. 2006, Smallwood et al. 2009, Ferrer et
al. 2012, Herna´ndez-Pliego et al. 2015, Wilson et al.
2016). For some raptors, the number of collisions
also seems to vary across the species range or
between facilities. For example, in general Red Kite
fatalities are rarely found under turbines and kites
are assumed to utilize avoidance behaviors at wind-
energy projects (Whitﬁeld and Madders 2006). Yet,
turbine collisions of Red Kites in Germany, where
half of the world’s breeding population occurs, are
reported to be the highest of any raptor species in
the area (Ho¨ tker et al. 2006). Older-generation wind
turbines at Altamont killed hundreds of Burrowing
Owls, Barn Owls (Tyto alba; 225) and Great Horned
Owls (Bubo virginianus; 71) over a 12-yr period
(Smallwood and Thelander 2008, ICF International
2015). In contrast, studies at wind-energy facilities in
Europe report fewer than ten fatalities of Eurasian
Eagle-Owls (Bubo bubo; Ho¨ tker et al. 2006, Ferrer et
al. 2012) and few owls of any species have been
documented as collision fatalities elsewhere in the
world. It is unclear whether these inconsistencies in
owl and kite fatality rates between geographic
regions result from differences in site-speciﬁc
factors, breeding densities, or behaviors that result
in habituation or avoidance of turbines.
As with any type of anthropogenic development,
construction of turbines results in some habitat
fragmentation and loss that can cause disturbance or
displacement of raptors, but these indirect effects
vary among published studies (Drewitt and Langston
2006, Madders and Whitﬁeld 2006, Pearce-Higgins
et al. 2009, Garvin et al. 2011, May 2015). The
consequences of such effects likely depend upon the
extent of development and species-speciﬁc toleranc-
es to disturbance (May 2015). Dahl et al. (2012)
found that a combination of a high number of
turbine collisions by adult White-tailed Eagles
(Haliaeetus albicilla) and displacement led to vacan-
cies of previously used nesting areas close to
turbines. Conversely, Herna´ndez-Pliego et al.
(2015) found no difference between pre- and post-
construction nest or colony abundances of Monta-
gu’s Harriers (Circus pygargus) in Spain. Kolar (2013)
found that the selection of nesting areas by Buteo
hawks in Oregon was not related to wind turbines.
However, Kolar and Bechard (2016) also found that
nest success and post-ﬂedging survival of Ferrugi-
nous Hawks (Buteo regalis) in the same study area
were negatively affected by the density of wind
turbines within home ranges. Post-ﬂedging survival
of Red-tailed Hawks and Swainson’s Hawks, the
species that made up most of the raptor fatalities at
wind-energy facilities in that study area (P. Kolar and
M. Bechard pers. comm.) and surrounding region
(Johnson and Erickson 2011), was also lower near
greater densities of turbines, but did not appear to
be affected to the same degree as that of Ferruginous
Hawks. These results suggest effects on reproduction
for these three species resulted from some combi-
nation of turbine collisions and indirect displace-
ment or disturbance effects associated with
operations and maintenance of the facilities and
The variable results of these studies underscore
the role of both local and regional factors that may
contribute to negative effects on raptor populations
at wind-energy projects. Understanding the site-
speciﬁc factors that inﬂuence collisions and dis-
placement, and the resulting population-level con-
sequences will help regional planners to better
integrate future wind-energy developments into the
4 VOL. 52, NO.1
WATSON ET AL.
landscape while avoiding or mitigating in areas
important for the long-term persistence of raptors.
Spain. The ﬁrst published evaluation of the effects
of wind farms on bird populations in Spain was
conducted in Tarifa (Andalusia Province, southern
Spain) from July 1994 to September 1995 (de Lucas
et al. 2004). The area was chosen because of its
proximity to the Strait of Gibraltar, one of the most
important bird migration routes of the Palearctic.
Soaring birds in this study changed ﬂight direction
when crossing the wind farm, increasing their
altitude and avoiding turbines. During the 14 mo
of the study period, researchers found only two
raptor carcasses, a number well below the average
found in studies of power lines using similar
methodology (Janss and Ferrer 1998). The results
supported the conclusion that mortality associated
with the wind farm was not an important factor, and
avian collisions with turbines were infrequent at this
To obtain a more detailed understanding of the
factors involved in inﬂuencing collision mortality of
birds at wind farms, de Lucas et al. (2008) carried
out a long-term study of avian fatalities at wind farms
in Spain between November 1993 and June 2003.
The results showed no relationship between density
(number of birds crossing the area) and mortality
rate of birds at the wind-farm scale. No indication of
a change in mortality rates across the study period
was found, suggesting that there were no long-term
temporal changes in birds’ reactions to those wind
farms, and implying that they did not habituate to
the presence of turbines.
The Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) was the species
most affected by collision fatalities. However, colli-
sion mortality rates did not simply increase with
abundance. De Lucas et al. (2008) proposed that
differences in mortality were related to species-
speciﬁc ﬂight behavior and morphology, weather,
and topography around the wind farm. In addition,
they found a skewed distribution of griffon fatalities
per turbine. Taller turbines at higher elevations
killed more vultures than did shorter turbines at
lower elevations (de Lucas et al. 2008). Likewise,
Carrete et al. (2009) found breeding pairs of
Egyptian Vulture tended to select roughly the same
areas as those preferred for wind turbine locations
and that the species’ population was decreasing
generally and at a faster rate in areas with wind
The effects of wind farms on Griffon Vulture
fecundity and mortality can be signiﬁcant (Mart´ınez-
Abra´ın et al. 2012). Operational mitigation pro-
grams to manage these effects have been imple-
mented by selectively stopping turbines when
observers detect potential risk to birds (de Lucas et
al. 2012). In one project, turbines were stopped on
average for 6 h and 20 min each year. Under these
mitigation regimes, Griffon Vulture mortality rate
declined by 65%, with a reduction in total energy
production of the wind farms of only 0.07% per year.
The most relevant factor for predicting collision
risk to raptors has been generally assumed to be the
local density, usually measured as the number of
birds crossing the whole area of the future wind
farm. However, studies in Spain provide clear
evidence that the probability of bird collisions with
turbines also depends critically on species behavior
and topographical factors (Barrios and Rodr´ıguez
2004, de Lucas et al. 2008). Ferrer et al. (2012)
found no relationship between risk prediction from
pre-construction environmental impact assessment
studies (i.e., at the scale of the entire wind farm) and
the actual post-construction mortality of birds
recorded in wind farms located in southern Spain.
Relevant factors affecting the frequency of collisions
with turbine rotor blades, such as bird ﬂight
behavior, topography, and wind speed and direc-
tion, were operating at the scale of the individual
turbine, and not at the entire wind-farm scale
(Ferrer et al. 2012).
Norway. The island of Smøla contains a 68-turbine
facility covering 18 km
of land and including 28 km
of roads. Before construction, White-tailed Eagles
bred at high density in and around the wind farm; in
total around 50 pairs were breeding on the island in
the period 2002–2005. A long-term time series on
population size and breeding status of the eagles at
Smøla from 1997 allowed the use of a before-after-
control-impact (BACI) design study. The study
demonstrated that this local population was affected
both by disturbance and collision mortality. Eagles
did not signiﬁcantly change their ﬂight behavior
when inside the wind farm, possibly explaining the
high collision mortality (Dahl et al. 2013). Breeding
success was lower in those territories that were close
to the wind farm, compared to those that were
farther away (Dahl et al. 2012). In addition to direct
mortality, there was displacement from the territo-
ries within the wind farm (May et al. 2013). Mortality
rates were higher for birds that had territories within
or close to the wind farm compared to those that
MARCH 2018 5
RAPTORS AND WIND ENERGY WORLDWIDE
lived farther away (Dahl et al. 2012), and the
intrinsic growth potential of the population was
reduced by the wind-farm development (Dahl 2014).
The total population of White-tailed Eagles at Smøla
did not decrease, probably due to immigration of
birds from nearby islands, and the displacement of
breeding pairs to other sites in the surrounding area
(Dahl et al. 2012).
Post-construction monitoring at Smøla used
trained dogs to ﬁnd collision fatalities. Because it is
an island with no mammalian ground predators,
Smøla has the advantage of long carcass persistence
rates, especially of large carcasses such as eagles.
There is little aerial bird activity on Smøla in winter,
so searches mainly focused on spring and early
summer (migration and breeding-season) and au-
tumn (migration). The search scheme was not
constant in all years, but was probably sufﬁcient to
reveal the majority of the casualties. Starting in the
spring of 2014, researchers introduced a new search
scheme, involving weekly searches at painted tur-
bines and unpainted (control) turbines in a mitiga-
tion experiment, with some additional searches of all
turbines. During the study from 2005 to October
2016, 73 White-tailed Eagles were found dead under
or near turbines at the Smøla wind farm. More adult
birds were found killed than were birds of all other
age classes combined. This has major implications
for the population dynamics, because for long-lived
species with a low reproductive rate, adult survival
rate is the demographic parameter that has the
largest effect on population growth (Eberhardt
2002). Of other raptors, two juvenile Golden Eagles
(Aquila chrysaetos) were found killed, as well as four
Merlins (Falco columbarius), one Eurasian Kestrel
(Falco tinnunculus), and one juvenile Gyrfalcon
(Falco rusticolus). Most of the eagles were found
during spring. At that time of the year, there is much
interaction among the territorial eagles, including
ﬁghting and chasing. This might reduce the birds’
awareness of moving rotor blades, making them
more susceptible to collisions (May et al. 2010b,
2011). The White-tailed Eagle is quite gregarious,
and that behavior may explain why the particular
turbine that killed most eagles at Smøla was one that
that was very close to a major roost site in a Sitka
spruce (Picea sitchensis) plantation.
Mitigation of turbine-induced mortality of birds at
wind farms has proven to be difﬁcult, as mitigation
may involve sensory, aerodynamic, and habitat-
speciﬁc factors (May et al. 2015). During the
summer of 2014, four turbines at Smøla wind farm
had one rotor blade painted black in an effort to see
whether mortality could be reduced by increased
visibility to birds (as demonstrated in Hodos et al.
2001). In addition, the bases of 10 turbines were
painted black up to 10 m above ground during the
summers of 2014–2015. All searches for dead birds
were performed using trained dogs, in a radius of
100 m of the turbines. This research effort is
ongoing, but preliminary results suggest that mor-
tality of Willow Ptarmigan (Lagopus lagopus), the
species most frequently found dead under the
turbines (.180 fatalities), has been reduced follow-
ing these visual modiﬁcations (T. Nyg˚ard unpubl.
data). The development of a GIS-based micro-siting
tool analyzing topographic features that enhance
orographic and thermal updrafts, as well as an
operational shut-down model for birds, is underway
as part of the project. Other mitigation measures,
such as scaring devices (DTBird; May et al. 2010a)
and UV-lights have been tested at Smøla, but the
effectiveness of the latter is doubtful (Hunt et al.
Proper siting of wind farms is crucial to prevent
raptor casualties. Smøla is an example of develop-
ment that did not incorporate wildlife consider-
ations, as it was built in an important breeding area
for White-tailed Eagles. A plan that could reduce
bird casualties by repowering the Smøla wind farm
with fewer but larger turbines (up from 2–2.3 MW to
3–5 MW) has been proposed but not yet effected.
The plan also recommended more bird-friendly
placement of the new turbines based on vulnerabil-
ity maps that identiﬁed areas of low use by eagles.
Maps were created by plotting the ﬂight paths of 73
satellite-tagged White-tailed Eagles, in combination
with direct observations of territorial eagles and
radar tracks from a MERLIN Aircraft Birdstrike
Avoidance Radare(DeTect, Inc., Panama City, FL
U.S.A.) placed centrally in the wind farm (Dahl et al.
Canadian Rocky Mountains. Wind-energy devel-
opment within the Hart Ranges of the Rocky
Mountains in British Columbia, Canada, overlaps
with a Golden Eagle migration corridor. Researchers
used a BACI study design to document Golden Eagle
ﬂight behavior in response to wind turbines at this
ridgetop wind-energy development (Johnston et al.
2014). Golden Eagle ﬂights were visually tracked
around a ridge containing 15 3-MW turbines during
three fall migration seasons, one pre-construction
(2009) and two post-construction (2010 and 2011).
Surveys were conducted by the same observer in all
6 VOL. 52, NO.1
WATSON ET AL.
years from three different observation points to
cover the entire ridge. Positions of eagles were
estimated in three dimensions as they migrated
within 2 km of an observation point. Estimated eagle
locations were then incorporated into GIS software
to ascertain ﬂight heights above the ground for
eagles that ﬂew within 100 m of the turbine string
(hereafter termed ‘‘ridgetop area’’). Of these ﬂights,
eagles that were within 150 m of the ground were
identiﬁed as being within a ‘‘risk zone’’ (i.e., within
turbine height). Flights within the risk zone,
coupled with wind speeds above turbine cut-in
(activation) speed at nacelle height, were classiﬁed
as ‘‘higher-risk’’ movements.
Observers documented 1134 Golden Eagle pas-
sages: 327 during pre-construction (2009) and 807
post-construction (380 in 2010, 427 in 2011). The
proportion of observed eagles that crossed the
ridgetop where turbines were located, regardless of
ﬂight height, were the same in pre-construction as in
post-construction (approximately 17%). However, a
smaller proportion of eagles crossed the ridgetop
area within the risk zone post-construction (1%)
compared to pre-construction (6%). In addition, a
substantially smaller proportion of higher-risk move-
ments within the risk zone were observed post-
construction (0.004%) compared to pre-construc-
tion (5%; Johnston et al. 2014). Golden Eagle ﬂight
altitude was higher post-construction compared to
pre-construction, and a binomial model indicated
that the likelihood of an eagle crossing the ridgetop
within the risk zone was greater during pre-construc-
tion compared to post-construction. The model also
indicated that the likelihood of an eagle crossing the
ridgetop was greater under headwinds and tailwinds
compared to western crosswinds and decreased as
wind speed increased. However, higher-risk move-
ments within the risk zone did not occur under
tailwinds, which were generally weaker winds. In
headwinds however, higher-risk movements did
occur, although infrequently.
In conclusion, the proportions of eagles that ﬂew
over the ridgetop area were consistent between pre-
and post-construction, yet during post-construction
these ﬂights were at higher altitudes which reduced
the potential for collisions. This suggests that eagles
detect the turbines and increase their ﬂight altitude
to avoid the structures during migration. However,
certain weather conditions, particularly headwinds
and potentially tailwinds, resulted in decreases in
ﬂight altitude during ridge crossings. Should the
winds be sufﬁcient to spin turbine blades during
such conditions, these circumstances may pose a
greater risk of collision mortality to migrating
California, U.S.A. A dense resident population of
tree-nesting Golden Eagles breeds in the Diablo
Mountains just south of San Francisco Bay in
California. It is estimated that between 1000 and
2000 Golden Eagles have been killed at the nearby
Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area (Altamont) since
the completion of the facility in 1987 (Orloff and
Flannery 1992, Hunt 2002, Smallwood and The-
This population has been monitored intermittent-
ly since 1994, beginning with a 7-yr investigation
involving radiotelemetry, nesting surveys, and de-
mographic analysis (Hunt et al. 1999, Hunt 2002,
Hunt and Hunt 2006). When these studies began,
the Altamont contained approximately 5400 tur-
bines on about 142 km
of open, hilly grassland. At
present, the facility is being repowered with fewer,
larger turbines that generate greater amounts of
power. The terrain is ideally suited to Golden Eagle
foraging upon abundant California ground squirrels
(Otospermophilus beecheyi). This situation is problem-
atic because the squirrels are commonly controlled
by ranchers outside the wind farm and, by virtue of
ongoing management policy, functionally protected
within it (Hunt and Watson 2016).
Research during 1994–2000 was designed to
estimate the trend of the Golden Eagle population
residing in the vicinity of the wind farm. The study
included airplane tracking of 257 radio-tagged
eagles of four life stages (juveniles, subadults,
ﬂoaters, and breeders) and a monitored sample of
58–69 territorial pairs. Radio-tagged eagles generally
remained year-round in the study area. Subadults
and ﬂoaters tended to aggregate in the wind farm in
areas where ground squirrels were abundant. To-
gether, although subadults and ﬂoaters represented
only 53% of the sample, they incurred 92% of the
blade-strike fatalities. However, not a single one of
the 101 eagles tagged as ﬂedglings was killed by a
turbine during its entire ﬁrst year of life on the wing,
from ﬂedging to one year after ﬂedging. The tagged
juveniles nonetheless frequently visited the wind
farm, in some months in proportions comparable to
those of subadults and ﬂoaters. A possible explana-
tion is that older eagles are killed while hunting, with
juveniles lacking the inclination and experience to
hunt effectively. Tagged breeders incurred few
turbine strikes because they tended to remain on
territory year round. When they did enter the wind
MARCH 2018 7
RAPTORS AND WIND ENERGY WORLDWIDE
farm, however, they appeared as vulnerable to the
turbines as subadults and ﬂoaters.
Survival and reproductive rates, and their standard
errors, were estimated for each of the four life-stages
from telemetry data and territory monitoring soft-
ware. The potential population rate-of-change esti-
mate was consistent with both population stability
and decline (k¼approximately 1; Hunt et al. 2017).
This implies that the local breeding population was
not generating enough ﬂoaters to strongly buffer
itself against loss, and that any sustained increase in
human-related mortality might require immigration
to maintain the population. Continued monitoring
revealed that all the territories surveyed in 2000 were
still occupied in 2005, and almost all in 2013,
implying stability of the nesting population. Mean-
while, collision risk conditions at the wind farm are
expected to improve with a large-scale repowering
program currently in progress in which many of the
small turbines are being replaced with relatively few
large ones, with no overall increase in power
generation. New estimates of vital rates will be
needed to detect whether repowering delivers on
this expectation. All the other human-related
mortality agents present earlier are still operating,
and, apparently no new ones have been added.
There is another problem, however, that is showing
its inﬂuence, and that is the apparent effect of
drought on Golden Eagle reproduction. During the
course of the recent surveys in the extremely dry
years of 2013 and 2014, Golden Eagle nest success
was very much lower than in any previous year for
which there is information (Wiens et al. 2015). This
may be due to a response of prey populations to
reduction in primary productivity.
Southern Africa. The wind-energy industry is in its
infancy on the African continent and as a result
there are few published data on the effects of wind
turbines on raptors in the region. Colyn et al. (2014)
published the ﬁrst recorded raptor mortality at a
South African wind farm (a Jackal Buzzard [Buteo
rufofuscus]). Preliminary results from South Africa,
based on 1 yr or 2 yr of post-construction monitoring
at eight wind farms, suggest that raptors account for
over one-third of carcasses found. Amur Falcon
(Falco amurensis), Jackal Buzzard, and Common
Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) were the most frequently
reported raptor fatalities, possibly reﬂecting the
high abundance of these species at the wind farms
in the review. Verreaux’s Eagle (Aquila verreauxii),
Martial Eagle (Polemaetus bellicosus), Lanner Falcon
(Falco biarmicus), Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni),
Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo)andthenear-
endemic Black Harrier (Circus maurus) have also
been recorded as fatalities (S. Ralston-Paton pers.
comm.). Many of these species are of conservation
concern, either regionally or globally (Taylor et al.
2015, BirdLife International 2016).
Africa installed nearly 1 GW of wind energy in
2014, with most in South Africa, Egypt, and Morocco
(Fried et al. 2014) and a ﬁve-fold increase in energy
demand is expected over the next 25 yr (The World
Bank 2011, IRENA 2013, IEA 2015). A large number
of wind-energy developments are expected (BirdLife
International 2013, Nemaxwi 2013), with speciﬁc
plans to harness the renewable energy potential in
eastern and southern Africa in a ‘‘Clean Energy
Corridor.’’ In preparation for this expansion, re-
search has focused on predicting risk to inform wind
farm placement. Bearded Vultures (Gypaetus barba-
tus) and Cape Vultures (Gyps coprotheres) have been a
particular focus of research; proposed wind farms in
Lesotho and South Africa’s Maluti and Drakensberg
mountains (a transboundary World Heritage Site)
are expected to have negative consequences for
small local populations of Bearded Vulture (region-
ally Critically Endangered) and Cape Vulture (re-
gionally Endangered; Jenkins and Allan 2013,
BirdLife International 2013, Rushworth and Kr¨
2014, Reid et al. 2015). Literature published thus far
includes studies on spatial analyses of Bearded
Vulture movements to inform wind-farm placement
(Reid et al. 2015), Bearded Vulture population
viability analyses (Rushworth and Kr ¨
ﬂight behavior of Cape Vulture to inﬂuence turbine
placement (Pfeiffer et al. 2015, Pfeiffer 2016) and
investigation of radar to study bird movements
Conservation organizations have also provided
spatial guidance for wind-farm developers and
decision-makers. Sensitivity maps have been pre-
pared for South Africa (Retief et al. 2012), and the
Red Sea and northern Rift Valley (BirdLife Interna-
tional 2014), and guidelines for impact assessment
and monitoring have also been produced (e.g.,
Jenkins et al. 2011, 2012, 2015, BirdLife Interna-
tional 2017). However, our understanding of site-
speciﬁc factors that inﬂuence the risk of raptor
collisions in Africa is still in its infancy, and
predictions of likely risk and species’ responses to
wind turbines need to be tested through further
research, monitoring, and data analysis.
In South Africa, most wind farms monitor their
effects on raptors and other birds either voluntarily,
8 VOL. 52, NO.1
WATSON ET AL.
or as a condition of their environmental authoriza-
tion. Best practice guidelines for impact assessment
and monitoring (Jenkins et al. 2011) are used to
guide the survey protocols. For example, carcass
surveys are generally conducted with a search
interval of 1–2 wk, with square or circular plots
searched in a radius around the turbine of 75% of
turbine height. To estimate fatality rates, surveys
include searcher efﬁciency and scavenger removal
trials. Monitoring reports are made available to
stakeholders either voluntarily or as a condition of
environmental authorization, or can be accessed
through the Promotion of Access to Information
Act. There is limited experience with operational
phase mitigation of wind farms in Africa, although
this is likely to change as wind farms become
operational for longer. Guidance on the use of
‘‘shutdown-on-demand’’ has been developed for
migrating soaring birds in the Rift Valley/Red Sea
Flyway (BirdLife International 2015).
Monitoring Raptor Fatalities at Wind-energy Facil-
ities, U.S.A. Post-construction fatality monitoring for
wind-energy projects presents signiﬁcant challenges
due to the competing needs for precision and
affordability. Most wind-energy projects rely on
external ﬁnancing for development and obtaining
this ﬁnancing requires that the costs of develop-
ment, operations, and monitoring be balanced by
potential proﬁtability. There is an implicit tradeoff
between economical approaches to development
and the need to accurately estimate the effects of
each wind-energy project on wildlife species. Recent
studies suggest population-level effects of wind-
energy development are generally small for most
avian species (Erickson et al. 2014, Loss et al. 2015),
but may be signiﬁcant for some raptors (e.g., Carrete
et al. 2009, Dahl et al. 2012), and there is still much
to learn regarding these effects. Post-construction
fatality monitoring is therefore needed to improve
our understanding of these effects as well as for
regulatory purposes (i.e., permit compliance moni-
toring). Here, we review current practices within the
wind-energy industry to estimate raptor fatalities at
wind-energy projects and provide suggestions for
improved balance between precision and cost in
future fatality monitoring efforts.
Due to factors including, but not limited to, the
spatial scale of wind-energy projects and the tempo-
ral pattern of collisions with wind turbines (i.e.,
many collisions occur at night), it is not feasible to
produce a complete count of fatalities resulting from
collisions at a wind-energy project. Instead, efforts
have focused on estimating fatality rates from
observed counts adjusted by estimates of probability
of detection (Erickson et al. 1998, 2001, Drewitt and
Langston 2006, Arnett et al. 2007, 2008, Huso 2011,
Strickland et al. 2011). Estimates of fatality rates
must account for (1) the probability that a fatality is
detected if it is available for detection (searcher
efﬁciency), (2) the probability a fatality is available
for detection (i.e., persists from the time of a
collision to the next search; carcass persistence),
and (3) the proportion of carcasses falling into the
searched area. These sources of imperfect detection
are accounted for in common ﬁeld study designs
that either measure searcher efﬁciency and carcass
persistence independently (Jain et al. 2007, Good et
al. 2011, Huso 2011, Korner-Nievergelt et al. 2011,
Warren-Hicks et al. 2013), or produce a combined
estimate of detectability (Erickson et al. 1998,
Extrapolation of fatality estimates produced by
statistical estimators is limited to the spatial extent of
the search area around the turbine, especially if the
area is relatively small. This is because the distribu-
tion of carcasses below the turbine is unknown.
Adjustment for the proportion of the carcass
distribution searched can be made using empirically
derived distributions from publicly available studies
or from within the same wind-energy project (e.g.,
the ratio or ‘‘road and pad’’ approach, Rabie et al.
2014). Additionally, models are available to predict
the proportion of the carcass distribution sampled
by a given ﬁeld design by modeling the carcass fall
zone (Hull and Muir 2010, Huso and Dalthorp
2014). This allows researchers to adjust fatality
estimates for this potentially important source of
bias even in the absence of site-speciﬁc empirical
data. An additional source of bias in fatality estimates
arises from the variance among sampled turbines in
the number of fatalities detected. This source of bias
has a greater inﬂuence on less abundant species
groups, such as raptors, than with abundant species
groups like passerines, due to the smaller samples of
fatalities generally observed in the case of less
abundant species (Huso 2011).
Available information from post-construction
monitoring at wind-energy projects in North Amer-
ica suggests patterns of variation in searcher
efﬁciency and carcass persistence rates (Smallwood
2013 and references therein). These patterns appear
to be inﬂuenced by carcass size and species, location,
ground cover, and season. Development of site-
MARCH 2018 9
RAPTORS AND WIND ENERGY WORLDWIDE
speciﬁc estimates of these sources of bias is therefore
standard industry practice in North America.
There are numerous statistical approaches that
extrapolate an annual fatality rate from a sample of
fatalities at a wind-energy project (Erickson et al.
1998, Johnson et al. 2003, Shoenfeld 2004, Huso
2011, Korner-Nievergelt et al. 2011, Etterson 2013,
Pe´ron et al. 2013, Warren-Hicks et al. 2013, Wolpert
2015). Each of the statistical estimators accounts for
sources of bias and adjusts the estimate to create a
relatively unbiased estimate of the true fatality rate at
a given project. However, most currently available
estimators of fatality rates do not produce accurate
and precise estimates when fatalities are rare ("5–10
fatalities per analysis period; M. Huso pers. comm.).
When the goal of fatality monitoring is the detection
of rare events, perhaps in association with compli-
ance monitoring for incidental take permits, differ-
ent analysis methods may be needed (Dalthorp and
Post-construction fatality monitoring studies at
wind-energy projects have typically used large,
square search areas around turbines with searchers
walking along transects spaced 3–10 m apart to
search for raptor carcasses (U.S.F.W.S. 2012). Bias
correction trials are usually conducted simulta-
neously with fatality searches. These trials involve
distributing test carcasses without the knowledge of
searchers to obtain estimates of detection probabil-
ity; test carcasses are then either removed after the
trial or left in place to monitor for removal (carcass
persistence) if combined bias trials are conducted
(e.g., Warren-Hicks et al. 2013).
There is a clear need for post-construction fatality
monitoring methodology that is powerful enough to
produce reliable estimates of avian fatality rates as
well as to detect rare events (e.g., fatalities of raptors
or threatened and endangered species), yet is also
economical enough to be used regularly at wind-
energy projects over long time frames. The devel-
opment of such a methodology will likely be
facilitated by the forthcoming availability of fatality
data from multiple wind-energy facilities via the
American Wind Wildlife Information Center (AWWI
2015). Use of these data may enable development of
robust, empirical distributions for carcasses around
turbines that can be used to accurately extrapolate
from small search areas. The development of new
tools such as the Evidence of Absence estimator
(Dalthorp et al. 2014, Huso et al. 2015) also provides
the means for designing fatality monitoring pro-
grams around a priori power analysis to ensure that
goals of the monitoring are met. This is the case for
fatality rate estimation or compliance monitoring.
Integration of cost-effective monitoring protocols,
meta-analyses of data, and emerging analytical tools
will improve our ability to estimate and appropriately
mitigate raptor fatalities at wind-energy projects.
Mitigating for Raptor Fatalities at Wind-energy
Facilities, U.S.A. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
has begun issuing Incidental Take Permits (ITPs) to
wind-power developers for take under the Endan-
gered Species Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle
Protection Act. Once a take limit is set and
minimization and mitigation approaches agreed
upon, conditions of the permit often stipulate
additional actions necessary if the permitted take
limit is exceeded. Accurately collecting and inter-
preting data to provide evidence that take is within
permitted limits presents challenges. To date,
monitoring of wind-energy facilities has been mostly
carried out by the industry with the objective of
estimating general bird and bat fatality rates, not to
address compliance with take limits for an individual
protected species. Current statistical approaches can
usually provide adequate estimates when observed
counts are fairly large, even when detection proba-
bility is very low. But when the target population is
small, as might be expected for endangered species
or species with low population densities, the
likelihood of ﬁnding no carcasses may be high, yet
observing no carcasses cannot necessarily be inter-
preted to mean zero or even low numbers of
fatalities (Huso et al. 2015).
Huso et al. (2015) describe an approach based on
Bayes’ theorem that uses information about the
search process and estimated detection probabilities
to provide posterior probabilities of the actual
mortality. Software to carry out the extensive
calculations required by this estimator has been
developed simultaneously by Dalthorp et al. (2014)
and Korner-Nievergelt et al. (2015) to give managers
tools for designing monitoring programs to provide
evidence of industry compliance with ITPs.
Dalthorp and Huso (2015) have developed a
statistical framework for inferring when observed
carcass counts are inconsistent with permitted take
levels either in the short-term (3-yr running average)
or the long-term (life of project), and deﬁne
decision-points (triggers) for initiating adaptive
management actions (AMAs) when estimated take
rates exceed permitted levels, as well as for rescind-
ing previous AMAs when warranted by low take rates.
Dalthorp and Huso (2015) evaluate the consequenc-
10 VOL. 52, NO.1
WATSON ET AL.
es of choices for certain parameters in terms of
species conservation and cost of operations. The
purpose is not to deﬁne optimal parameters but to
provide critical information to guide decision-
making in the management of ITPs.
The process of trying to minimize risk of collision
can be performed pre-construction, through im-
proved siting of turbines and the avoidance of prey-
rich areas, or post-construction. Approaches used to
minimize turbine collision post-construction include
temporary turbine shut-down upon approach by
eagles or endangered species, such as California
Condors (Gymnogyps californianus). Human observ-
ers may be employed to watch for these species in
wind farms where they are frequent; other methods
of detection being tested include radar, digital
image recognition, and radiotelemetry on resident
birds (R. Watson unpubl. data). Mitigation of
collision fatalities includes mortality offsets from
other known causes, such as retroﬁtting power lines
to reduce electrocution, carcass removal from roads
to reduce vehicle collisions, and abatement of lead
poisoning among avian scavengers that consume the
remains of hunter-harvested game shot with lead-
Wind-energy development is progressing because
of environmental and economic motives including
reduced greenhouse gas emission, improved air
quality and public health, reduced water consump-
tion, and market beneﬁts such as savings in the costs
of electricity, power systems, and other energy
sources, and creation of jobs (U.S.D.O.E. 2015).
Wind-energy developments can be detrimental to
birds of prey. Even low numbers of anthropogenic
fatalities of certain species, especially raptors, can be
additive with other causes of mortality and signiﬁ-
cant to their populations. For example, anthropo-
genic factors were responsible for about 56% of
satellite-tagged Golden Eagle mortality in the United
States, and reduced annual survival by an estimated
10% (U.S.F.W.S. 2016). Poisoning and shooting
were leading causes of fatality, followed by electro-
cution and collision (U.S.F.W.S. 2016). Many large
raptors including vultures are vulnerable to small
increases in mortality, due to their longevity and low
reproductive rates. They are also often susceptible to
collisions with turbine blades, potentially jeopardiz-
ing the existence of local or regional populations
(Drewitt and Langston 2006, Madders and Whitﬁeld
2006, de Lucas et al. 2008, Carrete et al. 2009, Dahl
et al. 2012, Mart´ınez-Abra´ın et al. 2012). Beyond
direct effects of wind turbines, collisions with
associated infrastructure such as power lines and
guy wires as well as potential displacement and loss
of habitat may also inﬂuence avian populations
(Erickson et al. 2001, 2005). Evidence from some of
the sites we reviewed suggests that careful siting and
continued research on optimizing coexistence can
minimize or even eliminate negative effects on
raptors. With the potential for vast expansion of
wind energy across the globe, our review reveals
some important considerations for siting and
questions for further research.
Population-level Effects. Although most studies
have focused on measuring mortality rates at wind
farms, researchers at Altamont focused on the local
Golden Eagle population around the turbines to
detect population effects, rather than inferring
population effects from killed birds. Occupied
territories remained stable over a 13-yr period
despite averaging around 60 turbine-related eagle
fatalities per year, suggesting that local recruitment
may be buffered by a more robust metapopulation.
Recent research supports this conclusion (Katzner et
al. 2017). Evidence indicates that the population
balance seen over past decades might be upset by
reduction in productivity caused by drought-related
factors related to climate change (Wiens et al. 2015).
Population studies should therefore be long-term
Studies in Spain found inconclusive evidence of
population effects from collision mortality among
many birds, and no evidence of mortality being a
function of bird density. Yet, for Griffon Vultures in
Spain, turbine collisions were found to have a
signiﬁcant effect on fecundity and survival, with
likely population effects because they too, like
Golden Eagles, are large, slow to mature, long-lived,
and slow to reproduce. Elsewhere there is some
evidence of population-level effects on White-tailed
Hawks, Red Kites, Common Buzzards, Burrowing
Owls, and Egyptian Vultures, and some evidence of
indirect population effects from habitat loss. Results
from studies of indirect effects have been mixed
because the effect may vary depending on the extent
of wind-energy development and differences among
species in their tolerance to disturbance; cause and
effect are also notoriously difﬁcult to demonstrate in
observational studies. In addition to measuring
mortality and its causes, including collision with
turbines, understanding the effect of wind-energy
development on a raptor population requires an
MARCH 2018 11
RAPTORS AND WIND ENERGY WORLDWIDE
understanding of nest-site occupancy, productivity,
immigration, emigration, and movements of raptors
through the area using either a BACI study design or
a strategy in which spatially separate but similar sites
are studied simultaneously for comparison of
population and behavior parameters between areas
with and without turbines.
For endangered species, a few deaths may have a
large effect on a small remnant population. In South
Africa, the choice of the Maluti and Drakensberg
Mountains for a new wind farm was considered
dangerous because that site is thought to be in the
top 1% of most sensitive sites for endangered Cape
Vultures and Bearded Vultures. Endangered species
are typically rare and therefore difﬁcult to detect
when they are killed by collision with turbines,
necessitating better methods for estimating mortal-
ity rates and population effects, such as those
described by Huso et al. (2015). Where endangered
species such as California Condors are satellite-
tagged for other research purposes, this method
might also provide early warning of approach to
turbines, allowing for shut-down to avoid collision.
Role of Behavior in Collision Risk. Collision
mortality in wind farms has much to do with raptor
behavior. Among Golden Eagles at Altamont, more
subadults were killed than adults or juveniles,
possibly because juveniles relied more on scavenging
than older age classes, and were therefore less likely
to forage and hunt ground squirrels among tur-
bines. Adults, on the other hand, were less likely to
leave their territories to enter the neighboring
turbine area. This ﬁnding contrasts with that of a
study of White-tailed Eagles in Norway, where
turbines were placed in nesting areas and where
territorial battles in spring and gregarious roosting
were thought likely explanations of high adult
mortality from wind turbine collisions. Studies in
Spain indicated evidence of behavioral avoidance of
turbines by some raptors, as also shown for Golden
Eagles in Canada. Conversely, large soaring Griffon
Vultures were susceptible to collision mortality in
Spain, most likely as a function of their soaring ﬂight
behavior and related morphology, as well as weather
and topographic factors, as also suggested for
Golden Eagles in Canada. Among raptors other
than eagles and vultures, there is also a pattern of
collision mortality among species with similar ﬂight
styles, with Buteo hawks, Burrowing Owls, and Red
Kites suffering higher fatality rates where dense
nesting populations overlap with wind-energy pro-
jects. Kestrel mortality is also high, but large falcons,
Accipiters, and New World vultures have relatively
low mortality rates from turbine collision. Kites,
harriers, and owls are also not frequently found as
collision victims in most areas, but they are not
immune to these effects, as evidenced by the
number of collision fatalities of Black Harriers in
South Africa, Red Kites in Germany, and various owl
species at Altamont, California.
In Spain, predictive environmental impact assess-
ments based on bird density as an index of collision
probability were not useful in terms of the param-
eters measured. Rather, ﬂight behavior related to
turbine-speciﬁc characteristics was more likely to
predict bird collision, especially of soaring birds, and
therefore more useful in making local site adjust-
ments prior to construction. In Africa, the develop-
ment of avifaunal sensitivity maps, which include a
layer for predictable ﬂight corridors based on
topography and bird ﬂight paths tracked by telem-
etry, offers a useful tool.
Informed Turbine Siting and Risk Minimization.
Size and location of speciﬁc turbines were related to
raptor collisions in Spain, with taller and higher-
elevation turbines more likely to kill soaring birds
than shorter turbines located at lower elevations.
That taller turbines killed more raptors in Spain
contrasts with ﬁndings in the U.S., where repowering
with fewer, taller, slower-moving turbines at Alta-
mont seems to have reduced collision fatalities
compared to the original installation of short, fast-
rotating turbines. This suggests that elevation and
topography may be more important factors affecting
raptor collisions than turbine size and rotation
speed in the study from Spain.
In Spain, post-construction mitigation by shutting
turbines down was effective in reducing mortality by
65% while only reducing energy production by
0.07%. Researchers derived the same conclusion for
White-tailed Eagles in Norway, where siting turbines
close to a communal roost was the cause of much
mortality that could easily have been avoided with
some care. Repowering with larger turbines is
planned and may reduce mortality of White-tailed
Eagles. In southern Africa, pre-construction assess-
ment would inform mitigation measures during
planning, and post-construction mortality surveys,
coupled with measures like turbine curtailment
found to be successful in Spain, could mitigate
mortality where turbines are already sited in sensitive
locations, provided government authorities attend
to the ﬁndings. Engaging with stakeholders, includ-
ing government agencies, non-governmental orga-
12 VOL. 52, NO.1
WATSON ET AL.
nizations, power companies, development agencies
and other ﬁnancial backers, is essential to ensure
that wind-power development occurs responsibly.
Turbine-associated Fatalities and Raptor Conser-
vation. Efforts to mitigate wind farm impacts on
raptors by reducing other unrelated human-caused
mortality agents, like electrocution (Lehman et al.
2007), lead exposure from hunters’ spent ammuni-
tion (Golden et al. 2016), poisoning, and trade
(Ogada et al. 2015), could have great beneﬁts for
survival of large raptor species. However, measuring
the relative beneﬁt of these mitigation strategies
depends, in part, on reliable estimates of mortality
from each source. Reliable post-construction mor-
tality monitoring at wind farms is notoriously
difﬁcult and the subject of intense effort to improve
reliability of results. Reliable mortality estimates are
particularly important for measuring compliance
with take permits issued in the U.S.A. by the
U.S.F.W.S. under the Bald and Golden Eagle
Protection Act to allow wind farms to unintentionally
kill these species without risk of prosecution. With
strong regulation and diligent oversight, authorities
can use these permits to leverage the beneﬁts of
mitigation measures by wind farms.
In conclusion, wind farms have the potential to
have important population-level effects on some
raptor species, especially large soaring raptors that
are long-lived, reach maturity at an older age, and
have low reproductive rates. Where such species
may be affected by wind-farm development, pre-
construction analysis of their ﬂight patterns and
behaviors in the proposed site should be used to
inform turbine siting to avoid frequent ﬂight paths
of soaring birds. Avoiding areas of high prey density
can dramatically reduce collision mortality, as
would repowering with fewer, larger turbines.
There is less information about other raptors, and
certain groups of species seem to be more at risk of
collision than others, especially large Buteos and
small falcons such as kestrels. The problem of
estimating mortality among rare species is being
tackled statistically to provide critical information
to guide decision-making in the management of
incidental take permits in the U.S., but the same
methods may prove useful in estimating mortality
rates of small, difﬁcult-to-ﬁnd species that have
been largely ignored thus far. The large variability
of experience between countries suggests the need
for global standards in wind-farm placement,
monitoring, and impact mitigation.
Statement of author contributions: Richard Watson
conceived the idea of a global raptors and wind-power
symposium with a joint article authored by invited
symposium delegates. Watson wrote the introduction and
discussion, and Todd Katzner and Richard Watson
compiled and edited the manuscript. Listed in order of
contributions to the paper, symposium presenters included
co-authors as follows: Patrick Kolar and Marc Bechard
wrote the overview; Miguel Ferrer, Virginia Morandini, and
Manuela de Lucas wrote the case from Spain; Torgeir
Nyg˚ard, Espen Lie Dahl, Kjetil Bevanger, Roel May, Ole
Reitan, and B˚ard Gunnar Stokke wrote the case from
Norway; Naira Johnston, James Bradley, and Ken Otter
wrote the case from Canada; W. Grainger Hunt, J. David
Wiens, Patrick S. Kolar, Teresa L. Hunt, Daniel Driscoll,
and Ronald E. Jackman wrote the case from California;
Hanneline Smit-Robinson and Samantha Ralston-Paton
wrote the case from southern Africa; Christopher J. Farmer
and Thomas Snetsinger wrote on monitoring raptor
fatalities; and Manuela Huso and Dan Dalthorp wrote on
mitigating raptor fatalities. Any use of trade, product, or
ﬁrm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not
imply endorsement by the U.S. government.
AMERICAN WIND WILDLIFE INSTITUTE (AWWI). 2015. Amer-
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