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Wind Is For the Birds

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Peter Dubacher founded the Berkshire Bird Paradise Sanctuary in Petersburgh, NY in 1972. Started, as what might have been described as a hobby, his labor of love has grown in 40 years to become one of the largest and best known bird sanctuaries in the United States. The Sanctuary is open daily May through October. There are many educational opportunities for individuals and groups, including school programs. Check out their website http://www.birdparadise.com/

In 1989 an injured Bald Eagle, Victoria, came from the Exxon Valdez oil spill that killed 250 Eagles. More recently, US Navy Seals rescued a Steppe Eagle wounded by a gunshot in Afghanistan. After 137 days of fighting red tape, the eagle was delivered to Peter for long-term care. See more pictures of Mithch and read the whole story - click here. Peter takes the care of his birds seriously. Several eagles have lived at the sanctuary for over twenty years. Currently there are about 800 birds on site – eagles, hawks, tropical, pigeons and more; at times there have been more than 1200.Mitchandeddie

The winter of 2009 caused Peter to think more about energy and his birds’ need of it. Peter recalls, “We had an ice storm in March. Ten days without electricity. It was a nightmare. Ten degrees below zero.”

In the winter the birds are moved to heated quarters. Some birds, the tropical ones, are more sensitive to cold but all the birds need heat in the winter. It was a scary ten days that caused Peter to re-evaluate his energy situation. He started to make plans and take action. He told his electrician, Ed Bumbaco of E.I.B. Electric, “I Need to do something.”

Two years ago the sanctuary and his home situated on the site required over 5,000 gallons of heating oil. In the summer of 2010 Peter installed two outside wood boilers. Last winter they burned nearly 60 cords of local wood and only about 200 gallons of fuel oil.

Ed, a licensed electrician and certified wind installer, researched a number of renewable alternatives and came back with Honeywell’s new WT6500 Wind Turbine as a practical solution. As Peter said, “I need energy in the winter, not the summer.” On the top of the “hill” in Petersburg there is a lot more wind in the winter than sun, especially at night! Also, during the day, sun is used to passively heat the birds’ winter quarters, but at night a heating system is required.

This summer Peter and Ed are installing three WT6500s on the top of 25 foot poles. The conditions in Petersburg are windy most times of the year, but especially during the winter. Two of the turbines will be hooked up to heating elements in the boilers to lessen the need for wood. The other one will be hooked up to primarily supply electricity to the house and boiler circulator pumps. Ed has also wired in a diesel generator, so when there is no wind Peter will still be able to keep his birds warm.

Ice storms are one risk, but when Peter thinks about possible power failure, he considers other possibilities as well – grid failure, terrorist disruption, wind storms, etc. It doesn’t matter the cause, he feels the need to be prepared. Peter is considering the purchase of three more wind turbines, but will wait until he collects and analyzes the data from the first three. The goal has always been the same: “allow the birds to live out their natural lives with dignity.” 

NOTE: smorton is right in his critique about wind generators generally producing less than the sales literature seems to state. As a matter of fact, in our area solar PV generally outperforms wind per dollar invested. In Peter's case, he places a premium on electricity at night and he is testing to see if this approach will help with his problem before investing further. DG 10/6/11.  

Peter Dubacher is the Director of the Berkshire Bird Paradise Sanctuary, which is a registered non-profit organization. Check out their website www.birdparadise.org or visit and see the birds for yourself. Donations are always appreciated. Peter can be reached at (518) 279-3801.

Dan Gibson is the Reporter and Chief Coordinator of Our Energy Independence Community (www.OEIC.us). Previously he was a participating contractor in NYSERDA’s Home Performance program and a rater in the New York ENERGY STAR Home program. He is currently building a 100% Solar Home. He can be reached at DanG@OEIC.us

Comments on "Wind Is For the Birds"

  1. OEIC default avatar jjhixon October 23, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    Thanks, Dan, for sharing more info on the subject of bird mortality from wind turbines, here: http://www.sibleyguides.com/conservation/causes-of-bird-mortality/

    Here’s a provocative quote from the Sibley page: “It’s difficult for an environmentalist to come out against renewable energy like wind turbines, but as long as the electricity generated is considered a “supplement” to satisfy increasing demand, wind power will not really help the fight against global warming. Establishment of wind farms should go hand-in-hand with drastic cuts in electricity use, and there is a real need for more study of the relationship between birds and wind farms.”

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Ratings for this Entry:

  1. Dan Gibson's avatar smorton October 03, 2011 at 2:32 pm


    Check out this past month's Consumer Digest for a review of this product....it wasn't favorable. Notwithstanding it does work, just not as well as promoted.

  1. Dan Gibson's avatar Jenny Hixon September 30, 2011 at 9:06 pm


    I really liked reading about the Bird Paradise, but I wish the article had talked more about the potential dangers that wind turbines (whether domestic or utility grade) pose to birds and how these can be ameliorated.