Flier Friendly

Wind farm on a green mountain terrain

Frequent fliers? More like frequent colliders!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Here you are, a bird in flight, minding your own business. Suddenly – SQUAWK! OH NO! A WIND FARM! Fly back!!!

Wind energy might help save the planet, but it’s deadly to birds. Their poor vision may not let them see windmills ahead. How can we make wind farms safer for our flighted friends?

Bard Stokke and his team at the Norwegian Institute of Nature Research stepped in. Stokke set his SIGHTS on making windmills easier to see!

Instead of the usual white poles, his team painted every second or third windmill base black. Like the keys on a piano, the black bases stood out against the white. Then, they monitored bird collisions within a hundred-mile radius of the windmills.

So what dropped after going black and white? Birds — or collisions?

COLLISIONS! The number of birds crashing dropped by HALF after Stokke’s paint job! Ebony and Ivory…saving birds in perfect harmony!

Now THAT’s music to my ears!


Stokke, B. G., Nygård, T., Falkdalen, U., Pedersen, H. C., & May, R. (2020). Effect of tower base painting on willow ptarmigan collision rates with wind turbines. Ecology and Evolution, 10(12), 5670–5679. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.6307

Clarification note: This script refers to “windmills,” however, the correct term is “wind turbines.” Quoting from this webpage, Windmills and wind turbines both harness wind energy and put it to practical use. The difference is in how they do it: One is a machine with mechanics powered by the wind, the other generates electricity for use elsewhere. The Loh Down on Science regrets the error.