Researchers map bird migrations to avoid turbine collisions 

Source: By Scott Dance, Baltimore Sun • Posted: Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Researchers have spent the last three years mapping the path migrating birds take from their winter homes to their summer breeding grounds as wind turbines spring up along the Atlantic Coast, posing a potential threat to avian travelers.

Teams from Long Island to the Carolinas finished tagging surf scoters, a type of sea duck, and two other sea bird species last month and now are gathering data from tracking devices to chart their movement patterns.

While bird watchers monitor the end points of the annual journeys north and south closely, migration routes and whether they intersect with offshore wind projects have largely remained a mystery.

“There have been a number of surveys that have tried to look at concentrations at different times and places … and it’s critical in understanding where to put these offshore wind turbines,” said Caleb Spiegel, a migratory bird biologist in U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Northeast region. “But there’s a piece of information missing — how are these birds moving on much finer scale?”

Preliminary data suggest the birds stay close to shore missing a 125-square-mile zone established for possible wind farms, including one between 12 and 27 miles off the coast of Maryland expected to host 125 wind turbines

Scientists are still looking to answer questions about wind turbine effects on wildlife including birds, fish, whales, dolphins and seals as land-based wind farms are often criticized for bird fatalities.