The red kite is one of the bird species most responsible for death linked to wind farms. Various measures can be taken to reduce the risk of these raptors colliding with turbines and to prevent the decline of their populations. In this article we also tell you a beautiful story of the rescue of a red kite which was struck by a pale.
The number of birds actually killed each year by wind turbines has already been the subject of numerous scientific studies. Mortality from collisions with blades varies among species. As these are used to flying at different altitudes, it is the families that fly at the height of the rotating blades that are the most vulnerable. In addition, the perception of moving obstacles is more sensitive in some species than in others.
the royal milan is one of the species most closely linked by the development of wind farms. This raptor is exposed to the risk of collision, because it is not disturbed by the rotation of the blades and it does not avoid them.
Its hunting methods also explain an increase in mortality linked to wind turbines installed in nesting areas. The red kite is indeed a scavenger: it feeds mainly on animal corpses that it spots on the ground, sometimes at the foot of a mast. The bird then plunges with its head bowed towards its booty without paying attention to the pale ones. ” Concurring studies and observations on the absence of avoidance behavior of wind turbines », Confirms the League for the Protection of Birds (LPO).
The species is on the red list
The red kite is essentially European. It occurs from southern Spain east to northern Germany, Poland and the Baltic States. It lives near woods interspersed with pastures, crops and wetlands. In France as in Belgium, mainly in the East of the country: Bourgogne-Franche-Comté and Grand Est in France; Gaume, southern Luxembourg and eastern cantons in Wallonia.
Following a significant drop in its populations over the past twenty years, the red kite is a species classified as “near threatened” on the red list of theInternational Union for the Conservation of Nature. Although the causes of this decline are multiple, the wind farms in 2019, throughout France, the second kite mortality factor royal stocking.
In the European register of birds victims of collisions with wind turbines, 468 red kites killed have been reported in the last 20 years, which corresponds to an average of 31 collisions per year. This number is low compared to the size of the European population, which is still around 100,000 individuals. And this, even though the probability of discovering the corpses of red kites is particularly high: due to their large size, killed raptors are then more likely to be detected under wind turbines than small passerines or bats.
Protective measures can be taken
But in some areas, the density of parks can predict higher mortality. According to the LPO, 12 royal kites have died since 2019 in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté after being struck by a wind turbine. The region is indeed one of the major sites on a French and European scale for the reproduction but also the wintering of the red kite. Yet the league is not opposed to the development of new projects in the region. According to her, it is however necessary that the actors responsible for their development take into account the impacts of these projects on the populations of red kite and take the necessary measures to reduce mortality. This is why it has difficulty for them a body of documents constituting information sheets on the species, scientific data and maps of the territory.
Specialized organizations and consultancies can also provide the wind energy sector with their expertise and help in making the right choices in terms of bird protection. Among these, the company The meaning of life offers in particular a whole series of technical devices which allow wind turbines to track, monitor and detect bats and birds. Cameras defined on the turbines can, for example, track birds, and in the event of a risk of collision, trigger the response adapted to the trajectory detected: sound, regulation or shutdown of the blades. A radar can also be used for migration tracking, for example, but also to issue sound warnings or stop wind turbines in the event of risky trajectories. This system is particularly effective in ensuring that the blades stop before the bird enters the wind farm.
A beautiful rescue story
This company also reports on its site a beautiful rescue story of a royal kite. On August 26, during a death follow-up on a wind farm in Champagne, one of his collaborators witnessed the collision of a red kite with a pale. A race against time then begins. The bird is found urgently in a head trauma. The vital prognosis is reserved. Despite laser treatment of the spine and flower essences, the raptor remained in a comatose state for two days.
However, on August 30, it resumes support on its legs and the next day, it feeds on its own! The transfer to the Champagne-Ardenne Rehabilitation and Safeguarding Center (CRESREL) is organized on September 1st. On site, the team began its rehabilitation, fully financed by the wind farm operator. On September 24, nearly a month after his accident, the red kite was released.