Inadvertently and in typical Donald Trump style, he has brought domestic cats into the presidential election campaign. He doesn’t like wind power. He doesn’t like wind turbines for various reasons one of which is that the energy produced by wind turbines is expensive and another is that they messed up the landscape from one of his premium golf clubs in Scotland! But he made another exaggerated statement by saying that this particular form of generating electrical energy “kills all the birds”. It doesn’t kill ALL the birds. It kills quite a large number of birds which is a problem to America because North America has lost more than a quarter of their bird populations since 1970, it is reported.
Having said that wind turbines kill birds it prompted news media to explain the causes for the decline in the bird population, which invariably results in cats being cited as the number one threat at approximately 2.4 billion bird deaths each year. This is an old ESTIMATE. I have to stress that it is an estimate. I’ve done this before but the public need to realise that this figure (which is often quoted) is based upon small-scale scientific studies in particular locations on the predation of birds by domestic cats. The statistics acquired in these studies is then extrapolated (magnified up) to represent a nationwide domestic cat predation problem. But you can’t work out on a national scale the number of birds attacked and killed by domestic cats in that way. It is too inaccurate and the resulting figures are possibly misleading. We don’t know how accurate or inaccurate they are but you can’t bandy around this statistic with confidence and claim it is hard science as ornithologists are prone to do.
With respect to wind turbines, it is said that they kill about a quarter of a million birds annually in America. But the livescience.com website states that 573,000 birds are killed annually. You can see how the figures vary depending upon the vested interest of the organisation producing the figures. After cats, collisions with buildings is the next biggest threat to their survival, killing about 599 million annually. Collisions with vehicles cause about 214.5 million bird deaths annually. Bird deaths by wind turbines amount to 0.02% of the total population of songbird species in America according to the country’s Department of Energy on their website.
In fact, you can reduce bird deaths by wind turbine through modifications to their design and positioning. I wrote about this a little while ago. Painting half of one of the three blades black protects eagles and birds in general, I wrote. It’s a neat fix. It makes the blades visible to the birds so they avoid them. Normally the blades are invisible because of what is described as “motion smear”. I don’t want to be too critical of Donald Trump but a spell of modest research by his team would have revealed this and prevented him making another one of those faux pas of which he is well known. I am told though that Donald Trump does not like to spend time on preparing for these debates. He shuns the advice of his advisers.
The fix for cats killing birds is on the face of it equally simple: keep cats inside the home. This is hard to do however. It requires the voluntary agreement of the general cat owning public.