Purple Wind Turbines May Be Less Likely to Harm Birds

photo flickr user Stuart Yeates

Researchers Chloe Long, Dr. James Flint,  and  Dr. Paul Lepper , all colleagues at the Loughborough University in the United Kingdom,  conducted experiments to learn whether color might play a role in attracting insects to wind turbines. They measured how many insects were attracted to different colored cards laid out in random order next to a 43-foot-tall three-blade wind turbine.

The experiments showed that insects are most attracted to yellow followed by white and light gray. The researchers discovered that the color least attractive to insects was purple and  reasoned that wind turbines painted purple would likely kill fewer birds and bats: Birds and bats are often hit when they fly too close to fast-moving turbine blades in pursuit of an insect meal. 

“Our major conclusion from this work is that turbine paint color could be having a significant impact on the attraction of insect species to the structure, both during the day and at night,” Long was quoted as having said to the BBC. “If the solution were as simple as painting turbine structures in a different color this could provide a cost-effective mitigation strategy,” Long went on to say.

While it is not known if other factors like heat generation and blade speed contribute to insect attraction and bird deaths, it is clear that color plays a role: The color purple may very well reduce bird kill due to wind turbine collisions.

Visit the European Journal of Wildlife Researchto learn more about how wind turbine color attracts insects

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