Saturday, October 16, 2010

Could a coat of paint make wind turbines safer for wildlife?

Opponents of wind turbines often point to reports that they are responsible for significant mortality among some animals, especially birds and bats. There's controversy over the accuracy and significance of those reports, but it's certainly worth looking at ways of reducing wind farms' impact on wildlife. Which makes this a valuable discovery:
A study has revealed that a wind turbine's colour affects how many insects it attracts, shedding more light on why the turbines occasionally kill bats and birds.

Scientists say that turbines, most commonly painted white or grey, draw in insects. These then lure bats and birds - as they pursue their prey - into the path of the turbine blades.

Support for the idea comes from another study showing that bats are most often killed by turbines at night and in summer, when insects are most abundant.

"It had been speculated that insects may be attracted to turbine structures for some reason and this then could attract insectivorous species, such as birds and bats, to forage in the vicinity," said PhD student Chloe Long of Loughborough University, UK.

However, she added, "no other study has looked in detail at what specific insect species might be attracted to turbine installations or why".

So Miss Long and her Loughborough colleagues, Dr James Flint and Dr Paul Lepper, conducted the first empirical study of insect attraction to wind turbines, the results of which are published in the European Journal of Wildlife Research.

From the BBC. Apparently painting the turbines purple would be the best way to minimize the number of insects attracted to them.

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