Not exactly Crispy Skin Chicken…

… or Beijing Kao Ya.

From Breitbart:


Supporters of renewable energies hope that new advances in solar technology will figuratively set the world on fire, but for hundreds of birds in Nevada last month, that scenario became a literal reality. Nearly 130 birds were set alight mid-flight during tests for the new 110 megawatt solar array plant in Tonopah, Nevada. (h/t Watts Up With That)

The Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project uses 17,500 heliostat mirrors, each the size of a garage door, to direct sunlight to a central tower rising 1,200 feet above ground level. The combined energy is transferred to molten salt held in the tower, which is circulated and produces steam to generate electricity. Excess heat is stored in the salt, allowing electricity to be generated for up to ten hours without sunlight.


On January 14th, about a third of the plant was brought online for testing. Unfortunately, about two hours into the test biologists and engineers on site began to notice “streamers” – trails of smoke and steam caused by birds flying into the field of solar radiation. Any moisture on the birds was instantly vapourised, whilst some of the birds themselves burst into flames even as they flapped away. Nearly 130 birds were killed or injured during the test.


Federal wildlife officials have begun referring to the solar arrays as “mega traps” for wildlife, despite protestations by Ivanpah officials that the streamers are floating rubbish or insects straying within the field. But biologists believe the streamers are caused by a chain of reaction, as insects attracted by the tower’s bright light in turn attract bird species. [It’s the ciiiiircle of liiiiiife…..]


There must be an appropriate Daffy Duck image for this.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Lighter fare, Look! Up in the sky! and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. pmullane says:

    You’d need a heart of stone not to laugh.

    However, as a thought experiment, imagine a conservative, Republican, Capatalist or other right minded type even articulating the idea of creating some kind off (boo hiss) fossil fuel energy plant or even a (pass the smelling salts) Nuclear Power station that was ‘guarenteed’ to set fire to the very birds flying in the air around it, and then inagine the silicone and botox melting white heat of anger that would pour forth from the usual cabal of know nothing celebrities, phony ‘charities’, bought and paid for ‘scientists’, cretinous polititians, and Prince Charles.

    Its a truism of the modern progressive that not only does the end justify the means, in a way, but actually so long as the hideous means is done with the approved intention, the end is actually neither here nor there. Hence they support social programs for ‘the poor’ which deskill, denigrade and condemn ‘poor’ people to a life of neverending poverty and misery devoid of any hope of making anything of themselves (save perhaps six numbers on the lottery), so long as they are the approved ‘social programs’ of their discredited elite. Kind of like the way much of the institutional Church clings to the way we have been doing things for the last 50 years or so, despite the utter destruction that has taken place in that time. Its a despicable form of madness.

  2. HeatherPA says:

    Since it is done in the name of green, solar power, it’s okay, right?

    I mean, progs will forgive the deaths of The Birds because it’s all for “clean” reasons.

    Also, there are people like this woman to help us along the path of grief over the world that the horrible climate change has wrought.

  3. Kerry says:

    When pigs fly, Tonopah will be a fresh bacon destination.

  4. Kerry says:

    The photo of Tonopah is eerily similar to the crowds circling that black space rock in another desert.

  5. DonL says:

    Well, this proves that they eco-worshipper were right all along. Solar power is not for the birds.

  6. +JMJ+ says:

    @pmullane –

    I agree with your overall premise, but disagree with your conclusion. Obviously, we’re going to have to continue with the death ray power station because it’s green (hopefully it’ll even turn a profit for investors without a bailout from Uncle Sam). But they’re obviously going to have to put up some sort of sonic “shield” around it to keep the birds away.

    It’ll probably take about 121 megawatts to power. :-D

  7. Grumpy Beggar says:

    pmullane is right – you would need “a heart of stone not to laugh” (Could you imagine what would happen if cats were rational beings, and they managed to get their hands [claws] on one of these ?)

    And while creatures who soar are being basically vaporized in mid-flight, the irony soars so much higher from an environmental point of view. I found it interesting that in trying to substitute the claim that insects were being fried instead of birds, they would choose to name the one traceable vague forensic footprint a “streamer” , rather than a “plume” – hey, as Fr Z. has been known to quip : If it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, and it flies fries like a duck . . . it’s probably a butterfly .
    Smithsonian/Insect Flight

    What a crazy world:
    ashes to ashes
    ducks to ducks

    and now . . . ducks to ashes

  8. pmullane says:


    “they’re obviously going to have to put up some sort of sonic “shield” around it to keep the birds away.

    It’ll probably take about 121 megawatts to power. :-D”

    They can put up a wind farm to power the sonic shield to save the birdies from being combusted by the solar plant, then to save the birdies being chopped up by the blades of the wind farm they can put a super dooper electronic non gendered mixed race sustainable scarecrow in the middle to shoo them all off, which will all be powered by the coal generated electricity from the power station, which will also make up the difference in energy output from the wind farm when its not very windy/a bit too windy, and the solar powered station when its a bit dull, or a bit nighttime.

    Sustainability, innit.

    Grumpy Beggar

    “pmullane is right – you would need “a heart of stone not to laugh” (Could you imagine what would happen if cats were rational beings, and they managed to get their hands [claws] on one of these ?)”

    Cats would probably use it to kill birds and eat them, or make a big shiny reflection that they could jump about and try to catch – hours of fun. ‘Progressive’ humans build them as an unaffordable and unworkable solution to a problem that doesnt exist.

    Who is the rational being again?

  9. SKAY says:

    The progressives always tell us they will build a much “smarter” mousetrap–a fantastic sight to behold.
    Unfortunately it turns out that it won’t catch mice so once again we go get the cat.

  10. NickD says:

    But solar energy gets a pass, because it’ll saaaaaaave the plaaaaaaneeet from eeeeeeeeevil humans!!!

    Same with the wind turbines who clobber bald eagles on a regular basis

  11. Gerard Plourde says:

    It seems that the problem here is one of scale. The plant is an experiment by a private corporation in a model designed to monetize solar energy in a way that maximizes profits. It may turn out that solar, like wind before it, is most efficiently used in small scale projects that can have cost benefits for individuals and small groups (like isolated or rural communities).

  12. The Masked Chicken says:

    RIP, dear cousins.

    The Chicken

  13. John Grammaticus says:

    the funny thing is, that the liberals progressives who oppose certain green energy solutions on the grounds that it might hurt Bambi et al are the very ones who champion evolution as dogma, they fail to realise that on their world view its the birds fault for not adapting fast enough to the changing environment.

    But then again……. when have progs ever been logically consistent ?

  14. JesusFreak84 says:

    Well, with animals being damaged by birth control urinated into the water, concern for animals came a distant last. Same for animals being affected by wind power. Guessing how this’ll go…

  15. Latin Mass Type says:

    Sheesh…why couldn’t their computer modeling predict this?

    After all, that’s what’s used for predicting global warming climate change.

    Dear Chicken–

    Eternal roast rest grant unto them and and let perpetual light shine…er, hmm…let me rephrase that…

  16. Rachel K says:

    Nevada Fried Pigeon anyone?

  17. RAve says:

    Ah say, Ah say, theh’s somethin’ wrong with that duck…

  18. SKAY says:

    “RIP, dear cousins.” Exactly chicken.
    They have given their lives to warn us–kind of like the poor canary in the coal mine.

  19. Uxixu says:

    Chickens, ducks or generic ‘birds’ or some combination?

    Can’t say I’d be shedding many tears for pigeons…

  20. No one every pays attention to the law of unintended consequences, do they?

    But, since this is done in the name of progressive religion, cooking a few avian species is not the worst that could happen, is it? I mean, they’ll just ‘grant’ a few hundred billion taxpayer dollars in a futile attempt to subvert nature.

    Removing tongue from cheek. But, brought to you (or at least financed) by the same folks that gave you Amtrak, the Post Office, Conrail, Obamacare website, ‘if you like your (fill in the blank) you can keep your ‘fill in the blank’, cash for clunkers, the nascent Iranian atomic weapon, ‘what difference does it make’.

  21. iamlucky13 says:

    I’m surprised how many people act worried about the birds. Seriously. 131 birds in 2 hours? Clearly there is no shortage of birds around there. I’m really not a fan of frying birds, but they hardly seem in short supply.

    The big problem with this plant is simply that it’s really expensive – somewhere in the ballpark of twice the cost of conventional photovoltaic solar, although it’s hard to say exactly how much, because even though it was partially paid for with taxpayer money, taxpayers aren’t allowed to know what it does to their electricity rates. If they want to use solar-thermal concentrators, parabolic troughs have proven the technical feasibility of the idea without the bird deaths for decades. The remaining question remains whether its cost effective. The original projects from the 1980’s were heavily subsidized.

    “It may turn out that solar, like wind before it, is most efficiently used in small scale projects that can have cost benefits for individuals and small groups (like isolated or rural communities).”

    Photovoltaic panels are pretty flexible with regards to the size of project you deploy them in. The panels used in 100 MW solar farms are the same as those used on 5 kW rooftop installations.

    Wind is best used in large scale projects. The economics of small wind turbines are terrible, and the best locations are generally fairly remote. So you need huge turbines to get enough production to pay back the cost of building it, and you need a lot of them to justify the cost of the power lines to the wind farm.

    Both, of course, are limited in how much they can contribute to our overall power supply, because we can’t reliably control how much power they produce. If you need power and it’s not windy, or the sun isn’t shining (in some places – meaning outside of Antarctica in the summer, that happens at least once a day). But especially in the summer states where power demand peaks (cooling) coincides fairly well with peak solar production, it can be a useful part of the power supply.

  22. Kerry says:

    Like the apocryphal story from Vietnam, “Why is that forward base located there?” “To protect the airbase.” “And why is the airbase there?” “To supply the forward base”.
    Why is that protective energy shield there? To keep birds from being fried in the power array.
    Why is the power array there? To provide the energy for the protective shield. Heh to the fourth power!

  23. KAS says:

    I suspect less environmental damage from Lockheed Martin’s new compact fusion system :

    Then again, environmentalists would rather fry the wildlife than produce cheap electricity by way of fusion.

  24. MJFarber says:

    Actually I think it’s a conspiracy to make us eat more chik’in!

  25. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Establish, and enforce, a no-fry zone.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  26. Montenegro says:

    While I’m far from expert, I have worked with a small renewable energy company for the past 4+ years. The firm was founded by a convert to the Catholic faith, a humble, brilliant man, sadly now passed from this world, who would only receive Holy Communion while kneeling. It looks like this solar array is a bunch of mirrors – that seems to be the cause of the burning birds. Unlike this mirrored array, a standard remote off-grid solar array is comprised of solar panels used to capture PV energy, which is run thru an inverter and then charges a special battery. So it’s the battery that stores the energy, not the salt as described in the example reposted by Fr Z. Such a standard installation as I’ve described is safer for wildlife and likely more efficient than what is described in this example.

  27. Grateful to be Catholic says:

    The sad thing is that this phenomenon has been known since the first power tower was built in the 1980s. But the ideologues and their industrial parasites just can’t resist the temptation to turn all that free sunshine into power and money. I have actually been to Tonopah. You’ve heard of the Outback? This is behind the Outback. Lift the rug and I bet you will find federal funds and guaranteed loans for economic development, recovery from the recession, and green energy, all under the guiding hand of Sen. Reid.

    I would love to see the economic and energy efficiency analyses for such a grandiose installation, along with comparisons to alternative generation sources.

  28. Woody79 says:

    I think it would be beneficial if the President and his most trusted fellow Democrats would do a fly over to assess the problem. Perhaps then a solution could be attained.

  29. Gregorius says:

    “Olim lacus colueram,
    olim pulcher exstiteram,
    dum cygnus ego fueram.
    Miser, miser!
    modo niger
    et ustus fortiter! “

  30. frjim4321 says:

    How big is this thing?

    Can they put a mesh screen around it?

    Seems that in addition to the impact on the various populations, this is also caused a terrible cleanup problem!

  31. samgr says:

    With you and Orff on that, Gregorius.

  32. Stephen Matthew says:

    Everything comes with unintended consequences. Pick your poison.

    It seems to me extraordinary that there are any ducks out in the middle of that desolation As far as I ever knew ducks are migratory water foul, they like marshes, swamps, fallow fields, that sort of thing. Who knew they congregated in barren wastes. Maybe that is why duck season has been so poor around here lately (that and the ducks seem to be evolving an understanding of where the limits of the wildlife preserve are, only flying directly from one to the other never landing in between).

    In seriousness, I am sorry about the ducks, but you can’t power a civilized society without doing something (or someone) in as a consequence. I should much rather vaporize a few hundred ducks than dump enough particulate matter into the air to kill a few hundred COPD sufferers, given the choice. Is this anything but a government funded boondoggle? I don’t know. It is an intriguing idea, seems at least worth trying once.

    The molten salt energy storage has certain advantages relative to either batteries or pumped hydro storage. Other than a never ending need to clean and polish (sub-minium wage Mexicans through a shady subcontractor skimming their wages the cynical part of me says, some automated system the hopeful part says, juvenile delinquents the cruel part says) the mirrors this should have a relatively long life and low maintenance costs.

    Its all just a matter of how many pinheads can dance on an angel at once.

  33. Grumpy Beggar says:

    From the OP :
    “The Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project uses 17,500 heliostat mirrors, each the size of a garage door, to direct sunlight to a central tower . . . Unfortunately, about two hours into the test biologists and engineers on site began to notice “streamers” – trails of smoke and steam caused by birds flying into the field of solar radiation.”

    One dominant theme on this thread seems to be how an elaborate illusion was created in order to justify government funding – money grab . . . ultimately, to the greater demise of The Masked Chicken’s cousins.

    When we consider the book of Ecclesiastes telling us, “There is nothing new under the . . . ” um, well , ” sun” , it all begins to make sense. And Jimmy Breslin – a US journalist from a few decades ago, subsequently begins to sound all the more prophetic. Breslin was one of the first to take a popular old addage and apply it to the US political scene and to political power in general –

    “It’s all smoke ‘n’ mirrors.”

    . . . Same old same old.

    It is hoped that “The Chicken” will finally find solace now in the fact that this Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project , proves beyond a doubt that, the chickens have indeed come home to roost. I’m sending a floral arrangement in the shape of a box of McNuggets.

  34. DonL says:

    With 17,500 garage door sized mirrors blocking the earth, one has to ask how much oxygen producing grass has been mercilessly slaughtered by this deed?

  35. The Masked Chicken says:

    Dear Ed Peters and Latin Mass Type,

    I am writing a series of articles on humor theory and I would like your permission to include the No-fry and Eternal Roast comments in the articles, properly cited, of course.


    The Chicken

  36. acricketchirps says:

    I gotta say, if I were E.P. or LMT, I’d first wanna know if you’d planned to use my jokes as exemplars or failed attempts at humor.

  37. MaryMargaret says:

    I guess I am alone here. I don’t think that the deaths of birds is even sort of funny. I also don’t think any death of creatures is funny. I don’t have a problem with killing and eating creatures, but it is NOT funny to me.

  38. AnnTherese says:

    Thank you MaryMargaret. I was thinking this, also.

    On another note– praise God for Archbishop Tomasi’s plea to the UN, on behalf of the Vatican’s opposition to the death penalty.

    Life is sacred. Period.

  39. Stephen Matthew says:

    I particularly liked the ROAST in peace and perpetual LIGHT joke, but yesterday I saw spray “tan” joint with the name “NO FRY ZONE, Airbrush Tanning” which I found extra amusing given this recent thread. So thanks for the smile, too little humor in my life these days I am afraid.

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