MINIATURE “bird backpacks” or tiny tags on tail feathers could help reveal how seabirds move around Scotland’s offshore wind farms, and help to protect the birds.

The ideas are among responses to a challenge from the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, the UK’s research centre for wind, wave and tidal energy, after offshore wind farm firms asked for more reliable tags to monitor seabirds.

The firms are under pressure to ensure their turbines do not impact on seabird movements and behaviour.

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The tags must add no more than three per cent to the bird’s weight, have a battery that lasts a year, withstand attacks, and have quick-release mechanism to stop snagging.

Ideas include a bird backpack with a solar-powered GPS system, and tags which clip on to the feathers.

Four companies are now working to test devices before deployment around wind farms in the Moray Firth. The successful firm’s device will first be used on greater black-backed gulls. Vicky Coy from ORE Catapult said: “Developing a tag that withstands a bird’s natural behaviour is key to developing a greater understanding of their movements. It’s more difficult than it sounds.”

Catarina Rei from EDP Renewables, which is developing Moray East wind farm, said: “We’ll be able to gain a greater insight into bird and coastal species behaviour, which will better inform the planning, consenting and operational stage of an offshore wind farm development.”