Bird movements at rotor heights measured continuously with vertical radar at a Dutch offshore wind farm

Ruben C. Fijn*, Karen L. Krijgsveld, Martin J.M. Poot, Sjoerd Dirksen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Assessing the impacts of avian collisions with wind turbines requires reliable estimates of avian flight intensities and altitudes, to enable accurate estimation of collision rates, avoidance rates and related effects on populations. At sea, obtaining such estimates visually is limited not only by weather conditions but, more importantly, because a high proportion of birds fly at night and at heights above the range of visual observation. We used vertical radar with automated bird-tracking software to overcome these limitations and obtain data on the magnitude, timing and altitude of local bird movements and seasonal migration measured continuously at a Dutch offshore wind farm. An estimated 1.6 million radar echoes representing individual birds or flocks were recorded crossing the wind farm annually at altitudes between 25 and 115 m (the rotor-swept zone). The majority of these fluxes consisted of gull species during the day and migrating passerines at night. We demonstrate daily, monthly and seasonal patterns in fluxes at rotor heights and the influence of wind direction on flight intensity. These data are among the first to show the magnitude and variation of low-altitude flight activity across the North Sea, and are valuable for assessing the consequences of developments such as offshore wind farms for birds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)558-566
Number of pages9
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Collision
  • Environmental impact assessment
  • Land birds
  • Migration
  • North Sea
  • Renewables
  • Seabirds


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