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December 30, 2008 3:10:21 PM
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 are more than 199 feet tall, are in the immediate vicinity of an airport, or are situated along a major highway. More than 7,000 new towers are being constructed each year to meet the demand for cellular telephone and digital television networks, and this is expected to continue increasing in the foreseeable future.
Northern Harrier killed on the guy wires of a communications tower. Photo: Hugh Kingery
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.
Towers. Parr Photo: The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) have issued Mike voluntary guidelines for tower construction aimed at minimizing bird 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
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.