Science for Policy and Practice

AWWI’s 2018-2020 National Wind Wildlife Research Plan highlights what we have learned about wind-wildlife issues and what questions need to be addressed, and identifies specific areas of research where AWWI will focus over the next three years to achieve key outcomes needed to ensure we meet our goals for development of wind energy and conservation. These outcomes include:

  • Improved understanding of risk for bald and golden eagles, bats, migratory birds, and prairie grouse
  • The development of technologies, strategies, and practices for avoidance, minimization, and mitigation of adverse effects of wind development on these species

Learn more about our research below.


Credit: Tom Ryon, NREL PIX 24481
Credit: USFWS Mountain Prairie, Flickr
Credit: Brent Nelson, NREL, PIX 23904


Eagles, America’s iconic birds, are protected under federal law, which prohibits the taking (killing, wounding, or disturbing) of bald and golden eagles without a permit. Eagles can be killed or disturbed by wind turbines, yet, as the most commercially viable and scalable form of renewable energy, wind power is critical to addressing climate change, a major threat to eagles and other wildlife. AWWI’s Eagle Initiative is focused on generating the science needed to avoid, minimize, and compensate for eagle take so that wind energy facilities can minimize their impacts and maintain compliance with federal laws.

What We Know

The AWWI White Paper, Eagles and Wind Energy: Identifying Research Priorities (2012), provides information on:

  • population status and trends of bald and golden eagles,
  • anthropogenic sources of eagle mortality
  • potential mitigation options
  • research and conservation priorities

Learning More

AWWI has worked with internationally recognized eagle experts to create a framework for a national, hypothesis-driven research program on eagles and wind energy. The principal goals of this framework are to guide research that improves our ability:

  • to predict and estimate take of eagles at wind energy facilities,
  • to develop measures intended to avoid and minimize the take of eagles at operating wind energy facilities, and
  • to expand options to compensate or mitigate for unavoidable take.

Providing Mitigation Options

AWWI is creating a mitigation toolbox that can be used to compensate for eagle take at wind energy facilities, enabling companies to more easily satisfy the requirements of their take permits. Working with government agency staff and scientific experts in eagle biology and lead toxicology, we have completed the first option – a rigorous, quantitative, and geographically based model that predicts the effects of voluntary lead abatement on eagle survival. The model has been published in the peer-reviewed journal Ecological Applications and is now publicly available for companies, wildlife agencies, and scientific and conservation stakeholders to begin to implement in the field. Additional models will be developed for reducing eagle vehicle collision deaths and improving prey habitat to increase eagle survival and productivity.

Bald Eagle


Fatalities of bats have been reported at all wind energy facilities where data are available, in many cases at a rate higher than birds. Unlike bird collision mortality, bat mortality is concentrated in a few species, and we have insufficient knowledge regarding the species’ ability to sustain such mortality.

AWWI’s Bat Initiative is designed to:

  • Improve understanding of risk to bats from the operation of wind energy facilities and support avoidance of this take using best practices.
  • Assess the effectiveness of operational curtailment strategies and verify bat detection and deterrence technologies to minimize the estimated take to the maximum extent practicable.

AWWI coordinates with the Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative on work to understand and minimize bat fatalities at wind energy facilities.

Credit-J. N. Stuart, Flickr
Credit-USFWS, Ann Froschauer, Flickr

Prairie Grouse

Wind turbines and associated infrastructure (such as roads) occupy a small area, but wind energy projects can cover thousands of acres: the potential exists for disturbance to wildlife that uses the area for habitat. Two such species, the Lesser Prairie-Chicken and Greater Sage-Grouse, are both experiencing declining populations due to factors unrelated to wind power development, yet the core habitat of these species overlaps some of the best wind resource areas in the U.S.

AWWI works with scientists, our Partners, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and state agency staff responsible for protecting these species to:

  • provide data that better characterize the risk of wind energy development on prairie grouse species,
  • offer policy makers the information needed for the implementation of national or state recommended practices, and
  • provide strategies for effective mitigation of potential impacts.

AWWI facilitates the NWCC Sage-Grouse Research Collaborative. Visit the NWCC site to learn more.

Credit: USFWS Pacific Southwest Region, Flickr
Credit: Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren, Flickr
Credit: USFWS Pacific Southwest Region

Reporting the Facts

AWWI serves as a trusted and credible source for the facts of wind energy and wildlife, and we are committed to providing up-to-date analyses and syntheses of peer-reviewed research.

Wind Turbine Interactions with Wildlife and their Habitats: A Summary of Research Results and Priority Questions

This fact sheet summarizes publicly available information about the adverse impacts of land-based wind power on wildlife in North America and the status of our knowledge regarding how to avoid or minimize these impacts.

A Comprehensive Analysis of Small-Passerine Fatalities from Collision with Turbines at Wind Energy Facilities

This comprehensive peer-reviewed study, supported by AWWI, provides the most detailed analysis to date of the impact of bird fatalities at wind energy facilities in North America, and is the first to measure the relative impact of those fatalities on populations of small passerines, including songbirds.


Credit: Ken Billington, wiki
Credit: Joshua Mayer, Flickr

More on Our Approach

circ1Technological Innovation: AWWI drives the implementation of innovative strategies in the conservation and research communities and the wind development field. More



Information Exchange: Through our Partners and Friends and the National Wind Coordinating Collaborative, AWWI provides a forum to share wind-wildlife solutions and ensure that information empowers action that leads to sustainable results.  More

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AWWI’s success is based on wide collaboration with all who hold a stake in the success of wind energy and the protection of wildlife and habitat. By working together, we can move toward a common goal. Here is how you can help:


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