Wind Farm Effects on Migratory Flight of Swans and Foraging Distribution at Their Stopover Site

  • Sachiko MoriguchiEmail author
  • Haruka Mukai
  • Ryosuke Komachi
  • Tsuneo Sekijima


Wind farms have unintended negative consequences for birds, such as bird collisions, habitat loss, and barrier effects. Japanese law now requires environmental impact assessments (EIAs) of wind farm construction. Despite these EIAs, assessments of wind farm effects on birds are often inadequate because no data are available that compare bird behavior and distribution before and after wind farm development. Here we investigated macro avoidance and the foraging distribution of swans before and after the construction and onset of operations of a wind turbine operation in Japan’s Tohoku region. During the spring and fall migratory seasons, we used fixed-point observations to survey swan flight trajectories near a newly constructed wind farm and an existing, operational wind farm. Swan turning radius and trajectory altitude were used to determine macro avoidance of wind farms. Swan foraging distribution around wind farms was surveyed by car. Sightings of migratory swans drastically decreased in the wind farm areas, but swan foraging distribution around the turbines remained unaffected. This outcome may be because the wind farm is distant enough from existing swan foraging areas. We conclude that collision risk should be low because migrating swans avoided wind turbines, but their traveling distance is increased by the need to fly around the wind farm area.


Macro avoidance Migration Wind turbine Cygnus 


  1. 1.
    Barclay, R.M.R., Baerwald, E.F., Gruver, J.C.: Variation in bat and bird fatalities at wind energy facilities: assessing the effects of rotor size and tower height. Can. J. Zool. 85, 381–387 (2007). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Smallwood, K.S., Thelander, C.: Bird mortality in the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area, California. J. Wildl. Manag. 72, 215–223 (2008). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Drewitt, A.L., Langston, R.H.W.: Collision effects of wind-power generators and other obstacles on birds. Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci. 1134, 233–266 (2008). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Newton, I., Little, B.: Assessment of wind-farm and other bird casualties from carcasses found on a Northumbrian beach over an 11-year period. Bird Study. 56, 158–167 (2009). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Rees, E.C.: Impacts of wind farms on swans and geese: a review. Wild. 62, 37–72 (2012)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Amorim, F., Rebelo, H., Rodrigues, L.: Factors influencing bat activity and mortality at a wind farm in the Mediterranean region. Acta Chiropterologica. 14, 439–457 (2012). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Pearce-Higgins, J.W., Stephen, L., Langston, R.H., Bainbridge, I.P., Bullman, R.: The distribution of breeding birds around upland wind farms. J. Appl. Ecol. 46, 1323–1331 (2009). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Garvin, J.C., Jennelle, C.S., Drake, D., Grodsky, S.M.: Response of raptors to a windfarm. J. Appl. Ecol. 48, 199–209 (2011). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Fijn, R.C., Krijgsveld, K.L., Tijsen, W., Prinsen, H.A.M., Dirksen, S.: Habitat use, disturbance and collision risks for Bewick’s Swans Cygnus columbianus bewickii wintering near a wind farm in the Netherlands. Wildfowl. 62, 97–116 (2012)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Masden, E.A., Haydon, D.T., Fox, A.D., Furness, R.W., Bullman, R., Desholm, M.: Barriers to movement: impacts of wind farms on migrating birds. ICES J. Mar. Sci. 66, 746–753 (2009). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Ministry of the Environment, Japan: Environmental Assessment Manual for Improvement of Wind Farm Site Location About Birds and Other Animals. Ministry of the Environment, Japan (2011). (in Japanese)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Japan: Environmental Assessment Manual for Power Plants. Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Tokyo (2017). (in Japanese)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Ura, T.: Cases of wind turbine impacts on birds in Japan. Strix. 31, 3–30 (2015). (in Japanese with English abstract)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Kitano, M., Shiraki, S.: Estimation of bird fatalities at wind farms with complex topography and vegetation in Hokkaido, Japan. Wildl. Soc. Bull. 37, 41–48 (2013). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Takeda, K.: The impact of wind turbines on breeding bird densities. Japan. J Ornithol. 62, 135–142 (2013). (in Japanese with English abstract)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Desholm, M., Kahlert, J.: Avian collision risk at an offshore wind farm. Biol. Lett. 1, 296–298 (2005). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Plonczkier, P., Simms, I.C.: Radar monitoring of migrating pink-footed geese: behavioural responses to offshore wind farm development. J. Appl. Ecol. 49, 1187–1194 (2012). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Cook, A.S.C.P., Humphreys, E.M., Masden, E.A., Burton, N.H.K.: The avoidance rates of collision between birds and offshore turbines. Scott. Mar. Freshwat. Sci. 5(16) (2014).
  19. 19.
    Whitfield, D.P., Urquhart, B.: Deriving an avoidance rate for swans suitable for onshore wind farm collision risk modelling. Nat. Res. Inf. Note, 6 (2015)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Madsen, J., Boertmann, D.: Animal behavioral adaptation to changing landscapes: spring-staging geese habituate to wind farms. Landsc. Ecol. 23, 1007–1011 (2008). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Ochiai, K.: Aeromechanics. Nihon Kouku Gijutsu Kyoukai, Tokyo (1999). (in Japanese)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Klaassen, M., Beekman, J., Kontiokorpi, J., Mulder, R.W., Nolet, B.: Migrating swans profit from favourable changes in wind conditions at low altitude. J. Ornithol. 145, 142–151 (2004). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Yui, M., Shimada, Y.: A new sphere shape model for estimating the number of bird-wind turbine collisions. J Policy Stud. 15, 1–17 (2013). (in Japanese with English abstract)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    ESRI Inc.: ArcGIS 10.4.1, Redlands, CA (2015)Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    R Development Core Team. R: A Language and Environment for Statistical Computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna (2015)Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Larsen, J.K., Madsen, J.: Effects of wind turbines and other physical elements on field utilization by pink-footed geese (Anser brachyrhynchus): a landscape perspective. Landsc. Ecol. 15, 755–764 (2000). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Harrison, A., Hilton, G.: Fine-Scale Distribution of Geese in Relation to Key Landscape Elements in Coastal Dobrudzha, Bulgaria Preliminary report. WWT, Slimbridge (2014)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of AgricultureNiigata UniversityNiigataJapan
  2. 2.Graduate School of Science and TechnologyNiigata UniversityNiigataJapan
  3. 3.Faculty of Veterinary ScienceNippon Veterinary and Life Science UniversityTokyoJapan

Personalised recommendations