About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

32 Responses to Video of "ecofriendly" wind power

  1. jdubya says:

    Ughh.. that sucks. Hit it from above, not where the bird was looking. Maybe they need to put some deer whistles on the fan blades to scare them off.

    If that happens with an often enough certainty you can film them by hand, the ground must be frigging littered with dead animals that will bring their own cadre of scavengers. A dynamic ecosystem fueled by the food pump windmill.

  2. Mike says:

    That’s awful.

    We aren’t even close to being a Type 1 civilization yet. I wish I could figure out how to hanress energy that would have zero side effects.

  3. An ecosystem of scavengers has been documented at some windfarms. However, some of them are birds, and they end up dead too.

  4. Salle says:

    All the more reason to make widespread use of smaller, more localized turbines. The enclosed roof-top option comes to mind.


  5. Mike says:

    Good news! I followed the link to another, better video:

    The bird is in the hospital for 30 days and will be ok! It will be able to fly again. This video shows the rescue operation after the bird got smashed.

    Also, while I agree we have to do somethng about wind turbines and birds, the fact is millions of birds are killed by reflective glass windows in buildings more so than turbines.

    An interesting way of looking at birds deaths from energy sources is how this article did it in a death per kwh ratio:


    “but fossil-fueled facilities are about 17 times more dangerous to birds on a per kWh basis. In absolute terms, since wind turbines produced a relatively small amount of national electricity in the United States in 2006, they may have killed about 7,000 but fossil fueled stations killed 14.5 million and nuclear power plants 327,000.

    Bottom line is that once again, we get back to good old oil being the culprit. It kills far more birds. The best thing anyone can do is either drive less or get a fuel effecient vehicle.

    I hope wee see more bird fiendly wind turbines!

  6. SARA o says:

    kind of looks like a condor-

  7. Ryan says:


    Nice quote, but the study was junk that was quoted. Preliminary, not peer reviewed and used pollution from a number of factors and blamed it squarely on coal and fossil fuels. Wind turbines are bad news for bird.

  8. matt bullard says:

    Clearly everyone knows wind turbines kill birds – that video just happens to be some dramatic evidence (even though the bird will apparently survive). That video is terrible to watch. Good to see they were able to rescue that vulture. This article suggests climate change will kill more birds than turbines ever will:


    Here’s hoping we can minimize both. There are a lot of people studying how to reduce the impacts of wind farms on birds and bats, for what it’s worth…

  9. Well it’s an issue that won’t go away until a lot more work is done. After I posted the video, I found this today in the LA Times. Wind power might blow a hole in bird populations. Some species will not nest near the turbines, while eagles, hawks and migratory flocks can be cut down by the spinning blades.

  10. Tim says:

    They could probably attach cables from each blade to another along the length of it then put ribbons all over them to make more of a solid appearance.

  11. Mike says:

    Compared to wind turbines, reflected windows cause 100 million to 1 billion bird deaths a year:


    “Muhlenberg College ornithologist Daniel Klem Jr. has been investigating the bird-window problem for decades, and he has found that highly reflective windows account for between 100 million and a billion bird deaths a year. That means that windows kill more birds in a year than windmills, cats, and cell phone towers. Combined.”

  12. matt bullard says:

    Ralph, interesting article. However, to state that the wind energy industry is free of “most” federal regulations is a bit misleading. Most industries are free of “most” federal regulations! I’d be curious to know which specific federal regulations he is thinking are giving a pass to the wind industry.

    Also, he uses the example of the 1970’s/1980’s-era wind farms on Altamont pass, which everyone knows is more deadly than most/all other wind farms (due to the smaller turbines that spin faster) and its location in a particularly sensitive area. So, he’s cherry-picking…

    I’m not saying bird/wildlife issues should be ignored – they are a serious issue. I am saying that it’s probably not has bad as people like the author of that article make it out to be…

  13. Nathan Hobbs says:

    So what should we do? Is the benefit of moving towards a lower carbon consumption society worth this type of event occurring? Mountain top removal mines are horrible as well, no matter what we do, Energy production is going to have a
    effect on wildlife, we will never get around that.

  14. bigbrowntrout says:

    A much cleaner, renewable, and overall greener energy is far more beneficial than birds being hit by the turbines. The country needs to be moving to greener and more renewable energy sources, I think that is something most can agree on. Of course there will be birds injured and killed by the turbines, however in this case I feel like the benefits outweigh the downfalls by far.

  15. April Clauson says:

    Birds are killed by airplanes, so lets not fly anymore. Birds are hit by cars, don’t drive anymore. Birds fly into glass windows, so lets not have windows….but oil kills the most!

  16. There are places for wind turbines, but the effects of these large structures are many, and not just on flying birds. They will completely destroy any sage grouse in the area. The grouse will not use areas where there are structures the grouse understand birds of prey can use to perch. The turbines are especially hard on bats. Bat lungs are not like bird lungs. The low pressure in the vicinity of the blades causes bat lungs lungs to collapse.

    It takes many roads to install and service these wind farms, and they occupy a lot of country. They require transmission lines unless their are near to existing lines. They have hum which causes wildlife to leave the area. In Japan it apparently caused sleeplessness in livestock and they died.

    Turbines gather ice in the winter when they are not spinning. A large turbine beginning to spin will throw the ice a long distance. Ice, amounting to several tons have been thrown from the turbines. So a metal that does not allow snow and ice to form or stick is needed.

    Turbine blades can fail spontaneously because of age or manufacturing defects. Heavy shards of metal can fly hundreds of feet. The turbines attract lightning. Fires are common and release toxic gases.

    Don’t get me wrong, the turbines are not worse than coal plants, but many problems needs to solved. Waiving regulations is no answer. Lawsuits and planning will greatly reduce the damage.

    Greater energy efficiciency is much better than more generation, and it is generally less expensive especially when all the side-effects (a.k.a. negative externalities) are counted.

  17. Not to be negative, progress is being made. Scientists Find Successful Way To Reduce Bat Deaths At Wind Turbines. Sept. 28. 2009

  18. April Clauson says:

    I have been watching green channels, and it is amazing what private ventures are being undertaken, one idea is making turbines that run off the water, the water flow creates the air/water movement that turns the turbines, and they can be above or below the water. there are a lot of ideas but I can not remember them all, but most sounded pretty good. The best is like some say, equip all buildings with their own turbine, and solar panels, and make the roofs green. then everyone everywhere will be contributing. It will be small business and private business that will come up with the best idea’s, but will the states and feds let them do it??? so many way’s, so many naa’s….Glad they figured the bat thing out!

  19. April Clauson says:

    And did you know that GM had the EV car back in the 90’s and it was scrapped, and I mean brand new EV cars taken to the junk yard to be crushed, due to the big oil and GM! I was amazed at the show I saw this week on it, they even had protesters back then at GM trying to stop the trucks from hauling them off! Greed and big corps will be the death of this world one day…

  20. April,

    There is a strong tendency in the American system to try to capture, rather than create wealth. This is done by centralizing production and retarding innovation (such as you describe).

  21. April Clauson says:

    You have such a way with words Ralph, wish I was that articulate, I just spit out what I think and feel…LOL

  22. Save bears says:



  23. Elk275 says:

    On the way back from Red Lodge yesterday morning I saw something different, what is was I did not know. I looked like a cell tower but was not a cell tower.

    This morning in the Billings Gazette there was an article on it. It was a windmill and one of the only two in the US. Instead of being like a typically windmill with a propeller it turns around the upright post like a Buddhist prayer wheel. The blade exposure is very small and the windmill is very quiet. The bad thing is that they have not been able to get it to work since August. It is still ugly

  24. ProWolf in WY says:

    Hopefully they can figure out some way to warn birds. What kind of vulture is this anyway? It didn’t look like a turkey vulture.

  25. timz says:

    Ralph, one thing you failed to mention in your “cons” statement about wind turbines is they require batteries. Both the manufacturing process and disposal of batteries are highly polluting.

  26. Cordell says:


    The large utility wind turbines found in wind farms do not store their generator output in batteries. Usually, the small residential wind turbines require battery banks to store power for later use.

  27. Barb Rupers says:

    SARA o
    It didn’t look like a turkey vulture to be me either, wings held too flat in flight and no color contrast in under wings and a light colored head. I checked out condors and they didn’t seem to fit the image either. Then on the link that Mike sent I read the location and it was Landas, South Crete. I checked out images of griffon vulture – it looks plausable.

  28. Richie,NJ says:

    Did anybody go to a website called “maglev” a guy from Arizona makes them.They said China was buying them for their country. It’s a tread spool that rests on two opposite poles,so it rotates without much friction or drag. The numbers are on the site, wind velocity, and I think coefficient of friction. As for the regular wind mills,what about a light cage to encompass the blades,like the fans in the stores when we were kids. I often thought those blades were exposed could hurt birds big time. If they did put a screens in,it would cut down on efficiency but to save birds,bats etc it must be done. As for transmission lines they should be built underground, it would create many jobs which we need big time. We did not have the right minerals for magnets,but could make a special effort in this direction.

  29. ProWolf in WY says:

    Barb, I thought that looked like a griffin. Much too big to be a turkey or black vulture but not big enough to be a California Condor. (Just think what would happen if it were a condor).

  30. SARA o says:

    Yes, I searched on old world vultures and to me it looks like a Cape Griffon- which is classified as a vulnerable species. I knew it was not a black or turkey vulture -. Glad to hear it was saved.

    Conservation status
    Vulnerable (IUCN 3.1)
    Scientific classification
    Kingdom: Animalia
    Phylum: Chordata
    Class: Aves
    Order: Falconiformes (or Accipitriformes, q.v.)
    Family: Accipitridae
    Genus: Gyps
    Species: G. coprotheres
    Binomial name
    Gyps coprotheres

  31. Bogo says:

    “Ralph, one thing you failed to mention in your “cons” statement about wind turbines is they require batteries. Both the manufacturing process and disposal of batteries are highly polluting.”

    Auto size and larger batteries have very high recycling rates. It’s much better than 90%. Also advanced EV batteries like the Saft NiCd units that have been in use in France are often in use more than 20 years. They are starting to wonder if they will outlive the EV cars they were originally put in.

  32. Bogo,

    When they require batteries, that is indeed highly polluting.

    I don’t know if he is correct, but above “Cordell” wrote on Nov. 3, “The large utility wind turbines found in wind farms do not store their generator output in batteries. Usually, the small residential wind turbines require battery banks to store power for later use.”


November 2009


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey