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Assessing Movements of Nanotagged Birds Near the Block Island Wind Farm: A Validation Study

A study beginning in July 2017 is being undertaken to test the ability of digital VHF transmitters to assess fine-scale movements of birds at the 5-turbine Block Island Wind Farm, the only active offshore wind energy facility in North America. This BOEM-funded study will model macro- and micro-exposure behavior of birds near a wind farm. We have constructed two land-based tracking towers on Block Island, and another tracking array on the eastern-most turbine platform on the wind farm. This allows us to track targets from multiple angles to maximize tracking efficacy. In addition, we are conducting detailed calibration surveys by towing a transmitter at different altitudes along fixed transects near the wind farm to assess model accuracy. Results from this research will provide the first detailed information available on behaviors of terns, plovers, and other birds in North America near an active wind farm. In addition, we will provide the first critical assessment of using land-based and turbine-based tracking arrays to monitor fine-scale movements of birds near offshore wind energy facilities.

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