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MORTALITY THREATS TO BIRDS

- COMMUNICATIONS TOWERS
December 30, 2008 3:10:21 PM

The Problem

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that between five and 50
million birds are killed in the U.S. each year after being attracted by the lights
on communication towers and colliding with the tower’s structure or guy wires
during night migration. Most incidents happen in poor weather with low cloud
during the spring or fall. In at least one instance, several thousand birds were
killed at a single tower in one night. At least 231 species have been affected,
with neo-tropical migrants making up a large proportion of all species killed.

Approximately 80,000 communication towers in the U.S. are required


by the Federal Communications
Commission to be lit, either because they
Northern Harrier are more than 199 feet tall, are in the
killed on the guy immediate vicinity of an airport, or are
wires of a situated along a major highway. More than
communications 7,000 new towers are being constructed
tower. Photo: each year to meet the demand for cellular
Hugh Kingery telephone and digital television networks,
and this is expected to continue increasing in the foreseeable future.

Despite the level of bird mortality associated with towers, it is likely impossible to prove
that these deaths are affecting overall bird populations given the range of other threats operating
concurrently. Many of the species affected are abundant and have reproductive ecology designed
to cope with high rates of mortality, especially among juvenile birds. However, more than 50 of
the species recorded in tower kills are of conservation concern, and any additional mortality must
be considered a potentially serious threat to these species. The Tennessee warbler, a species of
significant conservation concern is among the most commonly killed at towers. Despite a
concerted campaign by conservation groups to encourage tower construction and communication
companies to take the threat to birds seriously, and help fund research on lighting regimes to
minimize tower impacts, progress has been slow.

Conservationists have now resorted to legal means to resolve the


problem including opposing specific proposed tower construction
projects, and requesting a system-wide Environmental Impact
Statement on all towers.

The Solution

The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) have issued


Towers. Photo: Mike voluntary guidelines for tower construction aimed at minimizing bird
Parr kills. These guidelines include: co-locating new antennae on existing
towers; keeping towers below 199 feet; siting towers within existing
tower “farms”, and not close to sensitive bird habitat; eliminating guy wires; dismantling inactive
towers as soon as possible; using visual markers in areas of raptor and waterfowl movements
(both groups are prone to daytime collisions with guy wires); shielding security lighting; and using
the minimum number of strobe lights rather than continuous lights on towers that do require
lighting. The U.S. FWS guidelines indicate that red pulsing or continuous red lights attract birds
more readily than white strobe lights. However, no comparison between red and white strobe
lights has yet been made, and previous studies have indicated that red lights are less attractive to
birds than white. The Federal Aviation Administration announced in February 2004 that it was
releasing a guidance memo recommending against continuous or pulsing red lights on towers.
The Federal Communication Commission has hired a biologist to coordinate its response to the
tower kill issue. Clearly more research is needed to identify lighting colors and patterns that are
the least attractive and confusing to birds. These lighting systems should then be fitted to all new
towers and retro-fitted to existing towers. Many citizen groups across the country are fighting
individual tower construction projects, primarily because towers can be an eye-sore. In some
cases, bird conservation considerations have been helpful to these groups. It can be possible to
reduce the visibility of a tower, and reduce its potential impact on birds at the same time.
Disguising towers in existing buildings, or building them inside forests so that only the antennae
extend above the tree tops are two examples.

What You Can Do

Support conservation groups that are working to minimize bird deaths at towers. Write to
the Federal Communications Commission to express your concern that they are issuing permits
for communication towers that are killing migratory birds. Press for a local zoning ordinance to
prevent the construction of towers in your county. Contacting a local bird club, state Audubon
chapter, and the media may also help build support for your campaign. 1

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The American Bird Conservancy Website -
http://www.abcbirds.org/conservationissues/threats/towers.html
REFERENCE/SOURCE

REACTION:
For me, birds are so important in our lives. They are created

by God to clean and help the nature to be more beautiful. They have

various importances such as they eat insects to control and deals

hazardous pests and reptiles, they help together with the bee to aid in

pollination and spread seeds of flowers and other kinds of plants, and

they also maintain balance in nature. Another importance of birds is

that it helps detect the chemical scent added to natural gas, so that

we know there is a leak and therefore, it is useful for monitoring the

condition of pipelines. Birds in fact helped us with our aviation flight

because they’ve helped humans to the discovery and manufacturing of

aircraft and the development of concept of flap for the aircrafts to fly

better and safer. These warm-blooded animals helped our country with

their eco-tourism through bird-watching which adds money for the

country. They’ve also been proven that they together with the

fishermen have a special bond – they helped to guide the fishermen

not to get lost and sea birds such as the Terns also lead the fishermen

to shoals of fish and thus aid to rope in big catches.

I also believed that communications tower/s is also important

in our lives especially with our communications with our loved-ones

because it makes our communication lines with them faster and

reliable. Communication towers help us through making our phone and


cellular phone calls and internet services easier. It helps our economy

to go strong and improve it.

The abovementioned feedbacks above just showed that the

birds and communications tower/s is truly vital in our everyday lives.

So, meaning that they must never be destroyed moreover they must

be protected.

Having invented a communications tower, we must learn on

what are things may occur if this tower is build especially its bad

effects. In fairness for the U.S. FWS they’ve made new guidelines in

minimizing bird killings. Through following these new guidelines, the

companies with communications towers especially the

telecommunications companies we’re assured that they can help the

environment to be in excellent condition.

Having a very important invention like the communications

tower, we must never allow ourselves misuse it. Though progressive

peaks everyday, we must never forget that we should never do things

that degrade the living things created by God. We must protect those

things because we are not only helping ourselves, but also the

environment, our fellow human beings, and most specially our

country. Again, we must learn on how to conserve these birds.