By Dan Shapley
Wind turbines, one of the renewable energy hopes for the future, aren't nearly as bad for birds as once thought, according to a new report. Environmentalists had for many years been conflicted about wind power, in part because the massive rotating tines of the turbines of first-generation wind farms swiped an awful lot of birds out of the sky. Recent research, technological improvements in windmill design and better siting of wind farms away from migration corridors, have helped reduce that toll so much so that a report released yesterday by the National Academy of Sciences found that birds should feel a greater sense of danger from high buildings, power lines and, yes, the house cat on the prowl. The Audubon Society has even endorsed wind power. One note of caution, however: The study found that the sensitive acoustical equipment bats use to navigate at night may be imperiled by wind turbines. They seem to be dying in large enough numbers around some wind farms to concern the scientists.