A Passionate Voice to Protect Birds
LS: Why is the Great Lakes region so critical to birds?
KK: All three of the major migratory routes birds follow during spring migration intersect over northwest Ohio. When the birds get here, they confront the daunting expanse of Lake Erie. When you’re a songbird that weighs less than an ounce—and you don’t swim!—you need to rest and refuel before these long crossings. With so much lakefront habitat sacrificed to development, large concentrations of migratory birds gather in these remaining patches of wooded habitat to fuel up before crossing the lake.
Wind energy is an intense issue for us right now. With the need for alternative energy on nearly everyone’s mind, there seems to be a mad rush to install as many turbines as quickly as possible. The wind industry doesn’t understand the complexities of bird behavior, yet it’s making decisions about whether turbines will impact birds.
The Observatory has more than 30 years of data documenting the volume of birds that pass through this region during spring and fall migration. The entire Western Basin of Lake Erie has been designated as a Globally Important Bird Area. We’ve brought tremendous economic development to the region through our efforts to market the sensational birding here, and a whole host of environmental agencies and organizations are on record stating that this area is not suitable for wind energy development. Yet we still can’t keep turbines out. We need industry regulations—fighting these projects one at a time isn’t enough.
American Bird Conservancy.