Naysayers like to point to wind turbines as brutal bird-killing machines, wiping out huge populations of birds, but new research sheds some new light on the controversy. According to a massive study supported by the American Wind Wildlife Institute, wind turbines account for around 214,000 – 368,000 deaths each year. While any death is something to be avoided, that number is tiny compared to the fatalities from collisions with radio and cell towers, which kill 6.8 million birds every year.

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The study focused on small passerines in North America and the evidence shows that just .01% of those birds collide with wind turbines. The neighborhood cat causes far more damage to bird populations, with cats killing 1.4 to 3.7 billion birds each year. At the same time, the National Audubon Society released findings showing that over half of all bird species in America are threatened by climate change, which makes alternative energies like wind even more important for preserving overall bird populations.

Related: Utility Company Pays $1 Million in First Fine for Wind Farm-Related Bird Deaths

The AWWI will sponsor another study, this time to examine the impact that wind turbines have on larger birds, like hawks and eagles, and prairie birds. But one thing is already certain: of all the many threats facing birds today, wind turbines are not high on the list. Climate change, on the other hand? That’s something to worry about.

Lead image via Shutterstock, image via whologwhy