Or he could switch to arguing that those birds are immigrants, anyway

I’ve always wondered about this — I live in wind turbine country, my university runs a couple of them, and I’ve been out to walk around them, and there’s always something missing. There aren’t heaps of dead birds under them, like Donald Trump claims there are! I wondered if the blades strike these birds and flick their lump dead corpses off into the distance, or if there are thriving swarms of scavengers lurking in the bushes that snatch up the meat bounty falling from the heavens. It turns out I was wrong. wind turbines kill some birds, inevitably, but the real danger is…your cats.

I find it hard to believe MY PRESIDENT lied to me.

I assume that he will adapt to the facts and change his message at campaign rallies to something about how we need to deport or kill all those cats. He could probably put some kittens in a sack and slam it against a wall a few times, and then fling it into a river — his fans will all cheer.


  1. Akira MacKenzie says

    Given Trump’s insane affinity for coal and steam (it’s probably the only type of energy production he can grasp intellectually) as well as his and his fan’s penchant for Social Dwarinism and hyper-masculinity, I’m surprised he just hasn’t come out and claimed that wind and solar energy are somehow wimpy and effeminate. Meanwhile, REAL MEN love the roar of internal combustion engines, the stink of gasoline and exhaust, and sweaty, macho imagery of the coal miner or oil derrick worker. Who cares if the atmosphere become unbreathable and the planet overheats, the TOUGH can take it, the weak will die off.

  2. Chelydra says

    Wind turbines are a significant and worrisome source of bat mortality – unlike birds, bats seem to be actively attracted to turbines. This may be solvable with the right technology. The feral cat problem is astoundingly bad, but changing public perception enough to do anything about it seems impossible.

  3. says

    Recently in Latvia there were proposals to build some new wind turbines. Some “environmental activists” protested. They talked about dead birds and harmful noise and outright imaginary health risks for humans who would live nearby.

    Right now about half of the electricity that is consumed in Latvia is produced by burning fossil fuels. It’s funny how some “environmental activists” will object against everything except continued usage of fossil fuels.

  4. astro says

    i think the largest consideration is that turbine kills are considered preventable, while the others are generally not. cats are going to be cats, and they evolved as bird predators anyway. not much you can do about stationary buildings, power lines, etc. i suspect the “poison” category is glossed over as pest control, probably birds eating poison left for rodents, or eating poisoned rodents.

    i believe i have read that in mountainous areas, turbines are more likely to kill birds because they are placed in naturally windy passes or other areas that, probably due to the winds, are favored by migratory birds. it’s a big issue in california, probably less as much for the plains.

    yes, we have to be mindful of dishonest interests too. fossil fuel interests are always looking for something to put down green energy, and pitting environmentalists against each other (clean energy v. birders) is one of their favorite tactics.

  5. mamba says

    I’m curious…is there some technological reason why the blades simply can’t be encased in a type of open-grid hard cage, maybe shaped like chicken wire or at least small grid bars, that would prevent birds from touching the blades but letting the wind flow freely through it?

    IF birds are dying a lot (or even “significantly”), it seems like it would solve both problems…birds get to live and we get the wind power. PLUS it shuts up Trump on the subject…which is a bonus no matter how you look at it.

  6. Bruce Fuentes says

    I am always very frustrated by people that say something like this.
    “i believe i have read that in mountainous areas, turbines are more likely to kill birds because they are placed in naturally windy passes or other areas that, probably due to the winds, are favored by migratory birds.”
    If you are not willing to find the actual info, maybe you shouldn’t make the claim. I am not saying that this is not true, what I am saying is back up claims with actual evidence or do not present the claim. If it is indeed true you should be able to find what you believe you read.
    Also, what percentage of turbines are in mountainous areas? How much greater, if at all, is the bird kill? These are important data points to know in order determine the significance of your point, if it is in fact true.

  7. Rowan vet-tech says

    @4 Or… and this might be a stretch, or… we could really push for people to understand that cats are a domesticated species, and an invasive one, that should be kept indoors and only be outside either in an enclosed catio, escape-proofed yard, or on a leash. And we could also push for massive TNR and/or feral cat euthanasia programs, and send mobile spay/neuter units to rural areas to have their cats be altered.
    We could also encourage farmers to properly store their animal feed and invest in a ratting terrier which is a far more efficient and selective form of rodent control.

  8. stroppy says

    … and just a thought about kittens in bags etc. Maybe it’s just me, but I’d avoid putting such notions out there where they might perversely take root in minds of psychopaths…

  9. rrutis1 says

    #5, I think that theoretical wind turbine efficiency can only get about 60% of the energy available from the wind and in the real world operate at somewhat less than that. So, anything like a guard/grid that interferes with the aerodynamics of the turbine blades in going to cut into that efficiency even more.

    Even with the guard in place it would still impact the birds if they fly into the spinning turbine…I just don’t know if it would be less lethal.

    found a link to wind turbine efficiency: https://energyeducation.ca/encyclopedia/Betz_limit

  10. Stuart Smith says

    I dunno… I can clearly see Trump murdering a human and it not affecting anything, but a cat or dog… I’m pretty sure that would be beyond the pale for at least some of his supporters. It’s like in a movie. Killing a million people is an awesome action sequence. Killing a potential pet is a tragedy.

  11. says

    It’s a bit more complicated than that. You’ll notice that the graph shows total bird kills, without accounting for species. Turbines are disproportionately dangerous to larger birds of prey, some of which are severely endangered.

    Certainly cats represent an existential threat to wild bird populations, but when activists warn of the potential dangers of wind turbines their concerns are usually a bit more specific.

    I doubt it’s possible to generate energy without affecting the environment one way or another, but good decisions can be made so long as we don’t fall into the trap of believing that ‘green’ energy sources are entirely harmless. The relevant question is probably whether a wind farm is more dangerous to the local wildlife than catastrophic climate change.

  12. drst says

    OK it’s Monday and post-holiday lethargy meant I spent a couple minutes wondering how windmills were killing cats.

  13. mcfrank0 says

    Looking at this “issue” from another angle: I keep seeing and hearing discussion of the number of birds killed, but no mention mention on how the general bird population is being affected (including any mention of the total number of birds).

    Of course any “real” discussion would include how the various species of birds are affected as well as information on “natural” predation (I wonder how many other birds of other species, for instance, are killed by fellow raptors). This is all evidence that th mention of avian deaths by turbines is just fossil fuel industry propaganda and not an honest concern over the fate of birds.

  14. whheydt says

    Our cats are strictly indoors.

    We had one cat some years ago who got out. He managed to wander to a relatively near by fried chicken outlet and started cadging meals. (That’s how our upstairs neighbor managed to catch him.) He really seemed to think he was a little person with fur and fangs.

  15. autobotsilverwynde says

    Sorry, but the notion that cats kill billions of birds has been debunked. It’s based on shoddy science: https://www.nathanwinograd.com/conservation-biology-blaming-killing-cats-is-wrong-unscientific/

    The real problems? Climate change. Habitat loss. Pesticides. (Where are most birds trying to survive now? Farms and suburban areas. Guess what’s used in farming and lawn care?) In other words, it’s the human’s fault. But we already knew that.

    Now, for the idea that cats aren’t a native species: neither are Caucasians. Think about that. And animals have been spreading via rafting and land routes for eons; the idea of “native” species is actually kind of laughable.

  16. kestrel says

    @#17: I don’t believe the study is based on “shoddy science”… it appears to be based on sound science. The authors appear to be careful about how they reach their conclusions. https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms2380

    Feral cats are simply another way humans are affecting the environment and absolutely should be considered in trying to protect our planet.

  17. DanDare says

    Once more old play book being handed around. A few years and one priminister ago here in Oz it was ‘wind turbines kill endangered parrots and they are aesthetically displeasing’. That mantra had been in Europe a year before that.

  18. monad says

    @17: Saying there is no such thing as an invasive species seems like covering your ears. Sure, animals have been spreading via rafting and land routes for hundreds of millions of years. That doesn’t change that countless islands had peculiar local birds and reptiles, and then all in a single millennium these have been going extinct in favor of brand new mammals. We’re not allowed to give a name to that?

    In the case of North America, though, you don’t see too many cats in the wild. So yes, you can reasonably say the problem is much less an invasive species and more an invasive habitat. We can still consider how to make that environment more accommodating, though.

    In the case of wind turbines, it’s nice to see some numbers put to this. I knew the idea that they were some peculiar danger to birds was nonsense, that they killed way less than buildings; interesting they even kill less than power lines. But the smart wind critics (i.e. not Trump) have moved on to talking about bats. You can find countless articles talking about how turbines kill bats in great numbers through pressure differences that don’t apply to birds, and not much to put that in perspective. Does anyone know of a similar breakdown for them?

  19. davidc1 says

    I have three of the little sods ,i mean cats ,did have four but the poor sod got run over ,cried like a baby .
    Anyway one of the three is a black cat and the brother to the black cat that got killed .
    The pair of them were always bringing dead and alive critters in ,one time i saw that they were both together and had something cornered ,turned out to be a live rabbit .
    Took it to a local wildlife rescue center ,I do the same with live birds .
    Anyway the other two rarely bring gifts to me .So not all cats are the same .Over here in GB the Common House Sparrow is not not so common ,pollution has a lot to do with that .
    And people don’t seem upset at the amount of Mice cats kill .

  20. says

    How dare “wind mills” kill birds! They’re supposed to be fun targets for greasy NRA supporters instead.

    I’m surprised that hunting doesn’t figure in the study. Passenger Pigeons come to mind.

  21. numerobis says

    The bats thing is ancient.

    Bats are slowly recovering from white nose disease, an epidemic that wiped out large populations in the 00’s. At the height of the epidemic I was hearing (from batty biologists) about wind farms being an additional stressor.

    Of course at the time wind farms were mainly displacing coal-fired power fueled via mountain-top removal coal mining. The pollution from coal is deadlier than wind farms, and particularly the mining is atrocious — and there’s no hope of bats ever evolving a way to better survive their habitat being blown up and ploughed over.

    Still, wind farms kill birds and bats, so we need to make sure wind farms take mitigation measures like stopping during a migration (and avoiding building in migratory bottlenecks), or having the biggest, slowest-moving blades possible, or avoiding making the towers be appealing to nest in. There’s some active measures being researched as well.

    Efficiency initiatives are the only way to get the benefits electricity gives us without paying an environmental cost: ideally they end up as use less power, get the same (or equally good) outcome. The only other way is to stop taking certain benefits.

  22. jrkrideau says

    @ 18 kestrel

    To carry on the battle of citations / A moral panic over cats.

    It looks like it is Loss & Marra (2018) paper / Merchants of doubt in the free‐ranging cat conflict that is the real problem. It would take days oo weeks to even start to get a grasp of the actual problems and issues and I am not willing to spend the time and effort but a title like “Merchants of doubt….) clearly is inflammatory even if is only a letter not a paper. The author may well be correct but they are a bit strident.

    I agree with your “Feral cats are simply another way humans are affecting the environment and absolutely should be considered in trying to protect our planet.”

  23. nomdeplume says

    Since collision with windows in big buildings is the second biggest cause of deaths, perhaps Donald is moving to demolish all the Trump Towers and his other buildings around the world.

    Oh, and cats? Keep them inside, with access to an enclosed run outside.

  24. jrkrideau says

    @ 25 nomdeplume
    Keep them inside, with access to an enclosed run outside.
    Much of the problem seems to be feral cats.

    We estimate that free-ranging domestic cats kill 1.3–4.0 billion birds and 6.3–22.3 billion mammals annually.

  25. wzrd1 says

    @17, from a referenced URL in the blog page you cited, which oddly failed in its inline citations provide any evidence of cats being gutted, then decapitated “while still alive”, was a page that said this” “There, it’s the desert bandicoot, the Christmas Island pipistrelle and the Nullarbor dwarf bettong that have disappeared.”.
    So, not a problem for the desert bandicoot, the Christmas Island pipistrelle and Nullarbor dwarf bettong, not to mention the dodo bird, correct?

    “Now, for the idea that cats aren’t a native species: neither are Caucasians.”
    Is that implying that native peoples to the Americas and Australia aren’t homo sapiens? Or are caucasians simply not homo sapiens instead?

    Since introduced species aren’t really a problem, do present us all with one living dodo bird. A bird that largely became extinct due to introduced rats, another creature Australia and New Zealand are quite serious about exterminating as well.

    Also, oddly telling, mention that species haven’t adapted to the poison 1080, within the NYT article. Odd, as in, few are the species that have managed to adapt to any citric acid cycle disruptor.

    @20, I’m extremely dubious as to bats being preferentially killed by wind turbines. The blades are quite thin, they spin quite slowly and would be trivially echo located, size and motion noticed and avoided. If bats aren’t having mid-air collisions, I doubt that a healthy bat would fail to avoid those blades, not to mention the pedestal and generator housing. Their sonar isn’t like some WWII movie, where sonar pulses are sent every few seconds, they’re trains of clicks, so that they can track flying insects.

  26. nomdeplume says

    @27 Yes, feral cats are the biggest threat, but domestic cats do a lot of damage and that is a problem that can be solved. Also feral cats were originally domestic cats gone wild, and controlling (and desexing) domestic cat movement would be a contribution to reducing the feral cat problem. I write, by the way, as someone who is fond of cats (though I prefer dogs) and has had them as pets for most of my life.

  27. methuseus says

    As for wind turbines in mountain passes killing large or migrating birds, that was either altered or shut down to mitigate the effects. All other wind turbine emplacements have used that data to make them safer. Also, even if all 239k of birds killed are large species, the number killed by poison are much larger. As someone else said, they need to actually study the effect on populations, not just raw numbers.

  28. bobphillips says

    The article commenter #17 links to by Nathan Winograd is merely an opinion piece by a “no-kill” (cat) advocate. The main reference he links to is by Lynn et al. (2019) in Conservation Biology, which is an essay (opinion piece). To the contrary, there actually is much peer-reviewed literature by wildlife biologists (such as: Loyd et al. 2013, Quantifying free-roaming domestic cat predation using animal-borne video cameras, Biological Conservation 160: 183-189; and, Longcore et al. 2009, Critical assessment of claims regarding management of feral cats by trap-neuter-return, Conservation Biology 23: 887-894) that provides evidence that feral cats do significantly contribute to wildlife morbidity and mortality—especially on smaller birds, rodents, reptiles, and some terrestrial amphibians.
    Part of the problem is distinguishing between free-ranging domestic cats and feral cats. Though free-ranging domestic cats can be regularly vaccinated against rabies, feral cats quickly become trap-averse and cannot be revaccinated. Also, free-ranging cats are a major way that bubonic plague is transferred between rodent reservoirs and humans here in the Southwest—often in the most dangerous pneumonic form—whereas feral cats often avoid people, and thus are less likely to transmit the disease. Another distinction is the differing impacts feral cats have on wildlife in urban, suburban, and rural environments.
    Regarding commenter #24 criticism of Loss and Marra’s (2018) paper: I do not think their title is excessively strident. The Humane Society of the United States advocates trap-neuter-return (TNR) for managing feral cats and have successfully lobbied some local governments to forbid lethal control of feral cats. Our local Humane Society even installs and maintains feeding stations to maintain these cats, which only makes the problem worse because well-fed cats predate on wildlife more effectively than poorly fed cats. The Humane Society’s policy is not based on science; it is based on the emotional appeal of companion animals.
    Feral cats foul gardens with their Toxoplasmosis gondii contaminated feces. They also fought with my old (now dead) cat, even coming into my house to do so (a neighbor was feeding scores of them with the help of the local Humane Society). They became such a problem that I live-trapped some on my property and released them far into the wild where they would quickly feed a lion, badger, coyote, or eagle (save a jackrabbit!). But now I have a large dog again, the feral cats are not the same problem anymore. She doesn’t catch wildlife. Yes, I am biased—I happen to like lizards, field mice, kangaroo rats, frogs, and birds more than feral cats.
    And, regarding windmills: the ones with the huge slow-turning blades cause much less mortality on birds and bats than the earlier smaller faster-turning blade windmills (which I think could be called bird-o-mizers). But, face it; everything we do has some kind of negative impact—all we can do is minimize the negative or mitigate it with positives.

  29. says

    Here’s my understanding on bats – it’s not that they get hit by the turbine blades, so much as it’s the turbulence and pressure changes behind the blades, which basically causes their lungs to rupture from the sudden pressure change why they fly through.


    The cheapest solution to the bat problem I’ve seen is painting the turbines a color other than white – something that doesn’t tend to attract bugs when there’s light to reflect off the turbines, which is most of the time.


    Basically, the turbines attract insects, and the insects attract bats, who mostly DON’T get hit by the blades, but echolocation can’t help them avoid pockets of low pressure in the air.

  30. says

    I would think it should be pretty obvious that besides killing bats, wind turbines are also killing large, slow breeding raptors, like vultures and eagles. Cats are killing small, fast breeding songbirds. They’re not killing eagles. In fact, there’s a couple of YouTube videos that show it’s the other way around.

    There’s also a recent study out of Germany, that claims wind farms are killing large numbers of insects.It’s been suggested that this may attract birds that eat insects, which, in turn, attract raptors.

  31. KG says


    blockquote>And people don’t seem upset at the amount of Mice cats kill – davidc1@21,/blockquote.

    On the contrasry, I frequently see cat predation on small mammals and reptiles mentioned along with that on birds. See this UK study, for example.

    How about a reference? Because “a recent study out of Germany” is completely useless to anyone who wants to check your claim, or the claims of the “recent study”.

  32. magistramarla says

    mcfrank0 @ 15
    I witnessed a perfect example of what you are asking this fall. We had just moved into our new home, and I was contentedly watching a lovely bluebird hopping around on my lawn when a large crow swooped down, killed and began to eat the little bluebird right in front of me. We have a huge number of noisy crows who regularly visit our neighborhood, and I’ve since seen them take down doves and pigeons. I always knew that crows were carrion eaters, but I was surprised to see them preying on other birds.
    At the time, I thought about that study blaming cats for the large body count of birds and wondered whether some of that body count should be attributed to other birds.
    I have three cats, but they never go out. We have many predators living in our area – hawks, eagles, coyotes, dogs whose negligent owners have left them out to fend for themselves, etc. My three fur babies stay in by the fire and seem quite content to stay safe.

  33. KG says


    The problem is the sheer number of domestic and feral cats – far more than any other comparably efficient predator.

  34. davidc1 says

    @38 I was talking about the comments left on sites such as the Guardian and the Independent ,whenever a article about cats comes up ,every cat hater posts about the number of birds killed by cats .
    I think the decline in small birds might have something to do with the decline in insect numbers ,seed eating birds fees their young on insects .As mao found out when he got the Chinese people to kill all the sparrows ,after they had killed millions of sparrows the crops were eaten by insects .