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Multimedia > Birds and bats > Vulture struck by wind turbine

Vulture struck by wind turbine

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Lentas, south Crete, Greece

Here is the full video (5' 53"):

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From jianis19 on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RcTjdY1aN4

The vulture in the video was struck by a windturbine at Lentas in the Asterousia mountains of southern Crete. The people filming the event (apparently paragliders) collected the wounded animal and sent it immediately to the Hellenic Wildlife Hospital (EKPAZ) on the island of Aigina where it was diagnosed with a broken wing and a limp. Judging from today's press release of EKPAZ (the video circulated heavily on the internet in the past two days) every effort is made to help the two year old vulture recover and to be released again one day in its natural habitat, but the outcome is more than uncertain.

EKPAZ also states that although windfarms belong to renewable energies, which produce cheap electricity and stall climate change (...), it is important that any negative impacts from the installation and operation of wind turbines on other living organisms such as birds, bats etc. that live or migrate through the specific region is assessed properly prior to installation. "This is a very important parameter for the maintenance of biodiversity that unfortunately is not enjoying the necessary attention in Greece".

The region of Lentas is situated close to a NATURA 2000 site and along one of Greece's main bird migration routes. Apparently there have been 5 reported cases of vultures killed by wind turbines on the island of Crete recently. Imagine the number of animals that were wounded and killed unnoticed...

Another interesting fact of this rare video is that it shows why the collision happened. Birds often take advantage of an atmospheric phenomenon called thermals. Thermals are updrafts of warm air that rise from the ground into the sky. By flying a spiraling circular path within these columns of rising air, birds are able to "ride" the air currents and climb to higher altitudes while expending very little energy in the process. Solitary birds like vultures, eagles and hawks often take advantage of thermals to extend their flight time as they search for food. Social birds that fly in large flocks also use thermals to gain altitude and extend their range during migration.

Thermals are created by the uneven heating of the Earth's surface from solar radiation. The Sun warms the ground, which in turn warms the air directly above it. Dark earth, rocky surface, urban areas and roadways are good sources of thermals. Now in Greece, where wind turbines are situated exclusively on mountain ridges, large areas of soil and rock are exposed due to clearing for access roads and wind turbine sites and covered with gravel and in some cases even with asphalt. Therefore thermals are very likely to develop around wind turbines, possibly attracting soaring birds...

For further information, visit the Hellenic Wildlife Hospital website at www.ekpazp.gr