LIVERMORE (KCBS)— One of the deadliest locations in the Bay Area for eagles, hawks and other birds is slowly becoming a safer place for them to fly. Improvements are gradually being made to the Altamont Pass wind farm where several thousand birds are estimated to die each year.

For years, feathered predators have met their fate in the turbines of the hilly terrain just outside of Livermore, but wind energy companies are shifting toward more bird-friendly turbines.

Wildlife manager Doug Bell of the East Bay Regional Park District has observed the area for more than a decade.

“It’s been known for quite some time that the Altamont has very high mortality rates depending on which species you look at, whether it’s golden eagles, red-tailed hawks,” Bell said.

He said often times birds fly unknowingly into spinning wind turbines. He estimates there are between 50 and 60 golden eagles that die each year at the location. The companies are retooling their operations in a process Bell calls repowering.

“Repowering essentially means to replace the old-style wind turbines— numerous, small-wind turbines— with fewer larger wind turbines.”

He says even though the new turbines are larger, they are more widely spaced to help raptors navigate safely through the region.

According to Bell, one company is repowered and there’s evidence that bird deaths are down.

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