Geothermal/Migratory Birds

From Open Energy Information

Geothermal Migratory Birds

Migratory Birds
Present, Potentially Affected

The Migratory Bird Treaty of 1918 provides regulations to protect birds from human impacts. It prohibits activities that…

“Pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill, attempt to take, capture or kill, possess, offer for sale, sell, offer to purchase, purchase, deliver for shipment, ship, cause to be shipped, deliver for transportation, transport, cause to be transported, carry, or cause to be carried by any means whatever, receive for shipment, transportation or carriage, or export, at any time, or in any manner, any migratory bird, included in the terms of this Convention... for the protection of migratory birds... or any part, nest, or egg of any such bird." (16 U.S.C. 703). This treaty applies to the United States of America and its territories."

Examples of listed birds are the following:

  • Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
  • Black-capped chickadee (Parus atricapillus)
  • Common night hawk (Chordeiles minor)
  • Red tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)
  • Barn owl (Tyto alba)
  • Snowy egret (Egretta thula)

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-Migratory Bird Treaty Act

Migratory Birds Impacts & Mitigation

Migratory birds are often harmed by renewable energy development as foreign infrastructure is introduced to their environment such as pipes, turbines, construction vehicles, and buildings. Mitigation measures include the following:

Nesting: The nesting season lasts from May 1st-Sepember 15th, activating special provisions to protect birds. When on United States Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) managed lands, surveys are conducted to assess impacts on active bird nests through a series of monitoring steps. In some situations, biologists allow vegetation clearing near active bird nests, however, the vegetation can be used as noise and physical barriers to further mitigate young bird protection until they have either “fledged or failed”. In other situations, construction restraints, area closures and site relocation may be suggested to protect the bird habitat.

Raptors: Activities like drilling and well testing are prohibited within a half-mile of raptor nests to respect their reproduction period and periods of time where the nest is active.

Infrastructure: To mitigate bird electrocution, the Avian Protection on Power Lines requires enough space between transmission towers to ensure the largest bird wingspan in the area cannot get caught between two towers. Anti-collision shields and “Anti-perch” rods discourage perching and nesting atop transmission towers. Further mitigation measures to decrease bird mortality include fencing and netting sumps to keep humans and wildlife out.

Reseeding: Recontouring and reseeding repairs the impacted soil from construction, however, the soil must support reseeding and have ample vegetation near it. To mitigate erosion, keep the topsoil from when the surface was first broken. Not only does this save time, but it also quickly renews the physical characteristics of the soil.