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Thousands of bats are killed by wind turbines every year because they are drawn to the blinking red lights

August 29, 2018

By Paul Homewood


h/t Philip Bratby


From The Mail:



The mystery of why more than 80,000 bats are killed by wind turbines in the UK each year may finally have been solved.

Scientists found the winged creatures are naturally drawn to sources of red light – an attraction that can confuse them on migration routes.

Turbines use blinking red lights to ward off low-flying aircrafts at night.

Experts now believe this light source lures bats into the path of the blades, which spin at speeds of up to 170mph .

ccording to the latest findings, switching to ‘on-demand’ lighting that only turns on when a plane approaches could cut the number of bats killed by turbines each year.

Previously it was thought the animals switched off their sonar at higher altitudes because they did not expect to run into any obstacles.

Contrary to myth, bats aren’t completely blind.

In fact, previous research has shown that depending on the circumstances, bats sometimes prefer using their eyesight to sound when hunting – though they can only see certain wavelengths of light.

The mystery of why five million bats are killed annually by wind turbines may finally have been solved. Scientists found the winged creatures are drawn to red light - an attraction that may confuse them on migration routes (stock image)

The mystery of why five million bats are killed annually by wind turbines may finally have been solved. Scientists found the winged creatures are drawn to red light – an attraction that may confuse them on migration routes (stock image)


Researchers at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, in Berlin, Germany, say bats are particularly at risk of turbine collisions during migration flights.

‘Bats are at a higher collision risk at wind power stations during their autumn migration,’ said Oliver Lindecke, co-author of the study.

‘Our study indicates that the use of red light signals could have fatal consequences for them as this appears to attract them to operating wind turbines.

‘Existing light signals could easily be replaced by bat friendly alternatives, or context-dependent illumination could be deployed which is only activated if planes or helicopters are approaching a wind power plant.’

A survey of 29 UK wind farms showed 194 bats were killed a month in 2016 – a figure that is likely higher than reported because many of the dead creatures would have been cleared up by scavengers.

If extrapolated to all of Britain’s onshore wind farms it could mean as many as 80,000 bats a year are killed annually.

Even if the small creatures avoid a direct collision with the 650-foot-high (200m) steel structures, they are often killed by jarring air pressures created by the spinning blades, which can cause fatal lung damage.

Similar research found that 600,000 bats could be killed by wind turbines every years in the United States. 


Full story here.

  1. Frank Everest permalink
    August 29, 2018 2:45 pm

    “…an attraction that can confuse them on migration routes.” They don’t migrate, surely?

    • David Richardson permalink
      August 29, 2018 3:19 pm

      Some do, some don’t Frank. I guess it is a matter of weather and food supply.

      But the thing to remember is that without man-made red lights they can’t navigate – apparently!!!!

      • dave permalink
        August 29, 2018 5:04 pm

        Perhaps the bats follow the red setting sun?

        According to the site whence this story emanated

        “…we know nothing…”

        which is honest.

        But batty talk makes one think of certain views…

        It was exactly six years ago, today, that we were being told, concerning Arctic Summer Sea-Ice (I think here, in this same Daily Mail)

        “It is truly the case that it will be all gone by 2015.”

        Professor Peter Wadhams, Professor of Ocean Physics at Cambridge University.

        I would not mention it again, except that he thinks we will forget his fail; and he has not yet learned humility.

  2. Phoenix44 permalink
    August 29, 2018 3:47 pm

    All those regulations and costs to save bats everywhere else, and the Greens just let get chopped up wind turbines.

    It’s enough to make you weep for the stupidity of it all.

    • Sheri permalink
      August 30, 2018 12:39 am

      It was never, ever about saving bats.

    • Russ Wood permalink
      September 2, 2018 10:53 am

      The trouble is that the Green view of natural ecology is sort of “In order to save the World we first had to destroy it…”

  3. MrGrimNasty permalink
    August 29, 2018 4:34 pm

    A lot of bats undoubtedly migrate/travel to/from Europe, so it’s not just an onshore problem.

    The stupidity reminds me of this a few days ago.

    “The region [Mojave desert] is becoming less and less suitable for many species of birds as a result of climate change, which is why bird populations are collapsing.”

    Nothing to do with mega-windmill industrial complexes and solar concentration bird incinerators then!

  4. Curious George permalink
    August 29, 2018 5:09 pm

    No mystery here. Insects are attracted to lights, and bats follow them.

  5. August 29, 2018 5:28 pm

    To change the rules for lightning you would need FAA approval. Good luck with that!
    Advisory Circular (AC) 70/7460-1L sets forth standards for marking and lighting obstructions that have been deemed to be a hazard to navigable airspace in the U.S. Similar regulations would apply to other countries.

    The FAA says under 4.3 Lighting Systems.
    Aviation Red Obstruction Lights. Use flashing lights and/or steady-burning lights during nighttime.
    Medium-intensity flashing white obstruction lights may be used during daytime and twilight with automatically selected reduced intensity for nighttime operation

    CHAPTER 13 marking and lighting wind turbines says:.
    13.5.1` Nighttime wind turbine obstruction lighting should consist of FAA L-864 aviation red flashing, strobe, or pulsed obstruction lights. Studies have shown that red lights provide the most conspicuity to pilots.
    13.5.2 In most cases, not all wind turbine units within a wind turbine farm need to be lighted.
    13.5.6 Daytime lighting of wind turbines is not required.

    • Ian permalink
      August 29, 2018 5:40 pm

      I live at an aeriel crossroads (a bit like Roger, I suspect). When sitting in the garden I sometimes like to use a plane ID app to see what’s passing by. The sheer numbers would be an interesting challenge for an “only when required” system.

      Noting “… not all wind turbine units within a wind turbine farm need to be lighted …” another, possibly better solution, would be just to light up the attendant wind speed tower, where used?

      • Ian permalink
        August 29, 2018 5:41 pm


  6. August 29, 2018 5:31 pm

    Forgot to provide URL.

    Click to access AC_70_7460-1L_.pdf

  7. Bitter@twisted permalink
    August 29, 2018 5:32 pm

    How come the environmentalists aren’t up in arms over this?

    • Ian permalink
      August 29, 2018 5:43 pm

      It’s all relative, like the CPRE being against fracking, even though gas power generation would reduce CO2 emissions.

    • dave permalink
      August 29, 2018 5:51 pm

      “…up in arms…”

      They have other things to get excited about. For instance, I remember attempts, four years ago, to blame THIS behaviour on global warming:

      Have not heard much more about what must have been the silliest attribution evah!

  8. August 29, 2018 5:41 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  9. Kelvin Vaughan permalink
    August 29, 2018 6:00 pm

    I was walking under a turbine in Yorkshire. I saw a dead duck under it. Then I spotted another one. Upon inspection I realised it was the same duck that had been sliced in half.

  10. August 30, 2018 9:58 am

    The story is kinda ruined by the use of “aircrafts” as plural. Is there some reason why journos and their editors can no longer write English…?

    That said, I believe the main issue with bat strikes is knowing how many occur. The kind of extrapolations as used in the article are dumb. You have n bats killed by x turbines in time period t and from that extrapolate to 80k bats per year. First issue: n is an unknown proportion of the real deaths. Second: each turbine is located in a different place and is exposed to a different population of bats – level of use of the habitat plus different species, different flight heights (local foraging flights lower than migration). Third: what time of year was this, because with bats not active below 10 C there are going to be large chunks of the year when there are no strikes.

    The true figure is a complex sum, & this estimate is way off – but in which direction?

    Don’t get me started on bird collision stats…

    • Gerry, England permalink
      August 30, 2018 2:09 pm

      With so many windmills being on private land and the landowners making wads of cash from them, there is a strong incentive to cover up exactly how much wildlife is killed. There is also the very efficient carcass removal/recycling system that exists in the countryside.

  11. August 30, 2018 11:51 am

    Several years ago, one of our evening speakers for the West Virginia Wildflower Pilgrimage was a zoologist with the WV DNR speaking about bats in the state. We have several threatened or endangered species here. He stated that bats were not killed by hitting the blades of the wind turbines. Rather the sharp changes in pressure around the turning blades burst their lungs. They had plenty of dead bats to autopsy on the ground beneath the blades.

  12. saparonia permalink
    August 30, 2018 11:53 am

    In this world of space exploration and rocket science, is there any other way to alert passing humans, which birds and bats would avoid without being splattered and sliced..

    • dave permalink
      August 30, 2018 1:04 pm

      The impact of the human population (nearing eight billion, most of them demanding to live in an evermore complicated economy) on the rest of life is already huge. Given that unarguable fact, it is absurd* to arbitrarily highlight one trivial effect or another, and obsess about its particular cause.

      *But not too absurd, for some people.

      • Kelvin Vaughan permalink
        August 30, 2018 7:13 pm

        Global warming will drastically reduce the world population. All the people trying to stop it are just making matters worse for the future of the human race.

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