Toronto Hydro is patting itself on the back after an environmental assessment found that its wind turbine at the CNE does not kill birds. Just two dead birds were recovered during the recently released assessment. That's a relief. Everyone wants to hear good things about the first wind turbine in the city, and the first in a downtown urban setting in North America.
The villains in this story are the city's buildings. While domestic houses and the windmill each kill about two birds a year, and a single feral cat can kill 1,000 birds annually, buildings were responsible for 4,700 bird deaths last year, according to FLAP, an organization that monitors bird migrations.
But Michael Mesure, executive director of FLAP, says that he has concerns about Hydro's windmill findings, which could well have missed numerous bird deaths.
The study, which took place in two phases in the spring and late summer, ended in September. Mesure notes that fall migration goes to the end of November.
"Seventy per cent of the collisions that we encounter in the fall happen in October, after the study (done by Hydro was) finished," Mesure says. "We believe that they missed a significant portion of the migration season."
But while FLAP has dashed off a letter to Toronto Hydro outlining its concerns, Mesure isn't about to launch a feud between environmentalists. "We are not opposed to these turbines per se," he says. Most important, he says, is ensuring that they are carefully placed. Positioning them near large bodies of water can be hazardous to birds, he warns.