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Rare Vagrant Spotted Before Flying Into Turbine

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It’s always magical to see a new or rare bird that may have flown into the area, so when a White-throated Needletail appeared in the United Kingdom for only the sixth time in history, birders went to see the bird in person.

But the excitement they were experiencing quickly turned to horror as they watched the rare vagrant fly straight into a wind turbine. The group tried to help it, but the bird was injured too badly and died.

Here’s more from one of the witnesses, according to Outside:

“It was really beautiful when it was flying around, graceful and with such speed.” said John Marchant, who made the trip from Norfolk. “To suddenly see it fly into a turbine and fall out the sky was terrible.”

This is indeed a terrible event, but it’s not entirely unprecedented. Vagrant birds often find themselves publicly killed to the dismay of birdwatchers. For example, last year, a Cliff Swallow spotted in Sweden for the first time ever was eaten by a hawk in front of birders.

Vagrants are often disoriented and unfamiliar with the landscape and predators, so it’s not surprising that most of them meet an untimely end. The fact that rare bird alerts are put out when these birds appear in unusual locations make these events public.

Wind turbines are controversial structures to many bird enthusiasts because of their potential to kill birds. While some misplaced wind farms (see Altamont Pass) kill thousands of birds, other wind farms that have been studied and strategically placed do not.

This story should not act as fodder against the creation of wind farms, but it is a sad story about a lost bird that was out of its elements.

Timothy Martinez Jr. is a writer and freelance journalist. His work has been published in The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Remapping Debate in New York City and other publications. He’s been a bird lover since he was young and currently lives in New Orleans, L.A.