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Providing evidence to improve practice

Action: Paint wind turbines to increase their visibility Bird Conservation

Key messages

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A single ex situ experiment found that thick black stripes running across a wind turbine’s blades made them more conspicuous to an American kestrel than control (unpatterned) blades, but that other designs were less visible, or indistinguishable from controls.


Supporting evidence from individual studies


A randomised, controlled ex situ experiment on an American kestrel Falco sparverius (McIsaac 2001) found that it could discriminate between a control stimulus and an image of rotating wind turbine blades better if the blades were painted with two thick black bands running across the width of the blade (a visibility ratio of 2.4 in bright light, decreasing to 1.5 in low light, no difference in very low light). Blades with narrow black bands running across the width of the blade were less conspicuous in bright light (ratio of 0.1) and were indistinguishable in low light. A pattern of three stripes running the length of the blade were not significantly more or less conspicuous than plain white blades. Both the control (grey blade rotating in front of a grey background) and experimental stimuli rotated at 30 rpm.


Referenced papers

Please cite as:

Williams, D.R., Child, M.F., Dicks, L.V., Ockendon, N., Pople, R.G., Showler, D.A., Walsh, J.C., zu Ermgassen, E.K.H.J. & Sutherland, W.J. (2019) Bird Conservation. Pages 141-290 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, N. Ockendon, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2019. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.