Bird Deaths by Oil Platforms

There are slightly more than 9,700 species of birds in the world, but like many animals, their existence is in jeopardy. Human activity and development have a negative impact on our feathered friends. Nowhere is this more evident than on the 6,000 oil and gas platforms scattered throughout the Gulf of Mexico.

oil platform that can cause bird deathsAccording to the American Bird Conservancy (ABC),  the bright white lights that illuminate the platforms are responsible for 200,000 bird deaths a year. The birds are attracted to the lights, but often they become disoriented by them. Some will fly around in circles until exhausted, ultimately falling to their death. Or, they land on the platform where there is no food or water. When they finally leave they are in a weakened state, making it difficult to fly to land and making them more vulnerable to predators.

The good news is that the fix is relatively simple and affordable. A 2007 report by F.J.T. Van De Laar found that swapping the white lights for green ones reduced bird impact by anywhere from 50 to 90%. Combined with covering the top of the lights, many birds would be saved. ABC is calling on British Petroleum (BP) to make these lighting changes to their Gulf of Mexico platforms. Dr. Michael Fry, Director of Conservation Advocacy for ABC commented that on the anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon spill making the changes would “… partly compensate for bird deaths from the BP oil spill one year ago. …. Installing bird-friendly lighting on their platforms is one simple action BP could take that would have a tangible, positive impact for birds.”

Let’s hope BP uses some of their profits to do the right thing.

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Alison Wheatley

Alison Wheatley

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