It’s not easy to be a bird. The world is full of threats that can pick off an unaware bird, and we humans are constantly creating more of them. One of those threats, wind turbines, kill .
Why do birds keep running into wind turbines? It’s not that they’re dumb, it’s that they don’t expect to run into anything that high up. When birds fly, they’re usually looking down at the ground instead of ahead of them. This helps with navigation, but increasingly poses a problem when very tall objects like buildings or turbines are placed in front of them.
The solution isn't as simple as not building wind turbines, as they’re a crucial way to transition to more renewable energy. So to help fix the problem, a group of scientists at the College of William & Mary have : an ‘acoustic lighthouse’ that can drive birds away from turbines before it’s too late.
The solution, essentially designed to freak birds out, is directional speaker that plays a high-pitched noise. When a bird flies too close to the speaker, it will hear the noise and become startled, flying upward to avoid whatever’s in front of it. This way, the bird will hopefully see the turbine in front of it or at least react quickly enough to avoid a fatal collision.
The researchers have on birds in the lab and found that it works well enough to force at least some birds to change course, with many other birds slowing down considerably before impact. It’s tough to say how many bird lives would have been saved, especially because the tech has yet to be tested outside of the lab, but it’s likely to have a significant impact.
Hopefully, these speakers will become standard on every wind turbine in the country. Then maybe we can move on to installing them on the number one threat to birds in this country: .