The American Golden-Plover (Pluvialis dominica), a species of conservation concern, uses large agricultural fields during its spring passage through the mid-western United States. In west-central Indiana, large numbers of golden-plovers make a stopover in corn or soybean fields that were harvested the previous fall. Stopovers last for a number of days during which the birds feed and molt into alternate plumage. In recent years, wind energy facilities have been developed in the area with hundreds of wind turbines erected in fields used by the golden-plovers. During spring 2011 and 2012, we investigated patterns of golden-plover behavior at these facilities in Benton County, Indiana at a site where large spring aggregations of plovers have been observed for many years. Our results showed only limited behavioral avoidance of the turbines, and suggested that wind-energy development in this area was not significantly impacting migrant golden-plovers. However, we caution that additional studies could negate these somewhat tentative findings, and we urge that further evaluation precede possible expansion of wind energy development in the region.
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