At the Smøla wind farm in Norway, up to nine white-tailed eagles are killed every year when they collide with one of its 68 turbines. Worldwide, bird strikes are one of the main concerns in the planning of new wind farms, and a significant cause of community resistance to new farms. But in 2020, researchers discovered a remarkably simple and cost-effective solution.
Published in the journal Ecology and Evolution, a study by a team from the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research found that painting just one blade of a turbine black reduced bird strikes by 70%.
Painting one of the three blades black reduced ‘motion smear’, making the turbine more visible to the birds. This lowered the annual fatality rate by over two thirds when compared to the conventional turbine.
The Netherlands and South Africa have expressed interest in carrying out further tests, with suggestions that other patterns, such as painting the tip of each blade red, could be equally or more effective.