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Birds 'N Towers

Note: Much has happened in regulatory actions since this page was created. Time permitting it will be updated.

This is a resource page for those interested in various views on a topic that has recieved airtime on our station and one that surely will not go away. We hope this will be useful in your research regardless of the conclusion that you arrive at.



The FCC has retained a biological consulting firm, Avatar Environmental Services, to assist them in evaluating the impace of constriction projects on animal and plant species. Avatarís primary task will be to review the studies referenced in comments to the Commissionís Notice of Inquiry, released August 20, 2003, on the impact that communications towers may have on migratory birds. Avatar will also assist in the review of license applications that raise issues involving biological impacts under NEPA and the Endangered Species Act, including potential impacts on migratory birds.

Press Release.



  • Memorandum of Understanding - Michigan and the Fish and Wildlife Service: pdf
  • Avian Collision Study Plan: pdf
  • Memorandum of Agreement - Michigan and the FCC: pdf

September 17, 2003

Washington, D.C. - The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (Wireless Bureau) of the Federal Communications Commission has announced the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement (Agreement) with the State of Michigan (Michigan) and the FCC Enforcement Bureau regarding Michigan's 800 MHz public safety licenses. The Agreement between the Bureaus and Michigan ensures that in connection with the construction of its statewide Michigan Public Safety Communications System (MPSCS), Michigan will comply with requirements under the FCC's rules implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The statewide MPSCS includes 180 towers, which support essential communications for state and local public safety agencies.

The Agreement recognizes Michigan's commitment to participate in and facilitate an Avian Collision Study (Avian Study) at selected towers in the MPSCS. The Avian Study, which will be conducted over the next 2Ĺ years, will contribute to the understanding of the effects of communications towers on birds protected by the ESA and migratory birds. Michigan's commitment to the Avian Study is memorialized in a Memorandum of Understanding signed today between Michigan, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Director - Twin Cities Office and the Chief, Office of Law Enforcement (collectively, USFWS).

The Avian Study was developed and designed collaboratively by ornithologist Paul Kerlinger, of Curry and Kerlinger, and wildlife biologist Al Manville, of the USFWS Division of Migratory Bird Management, and reviewed by volunteer ornithological scientists with the assistance of the Ornithological Council. The Study is intended to systematically research the effect of lighting, height, and guy wires on avian collisions at selected towers in the 350-500 foot height range in the MPSCS. The variety of types and heights of towers within the system provides conditions that are conducive to systematically measuring the effects of these variables. Depending on funding and the ability to negotiate access, the Avian Study may also be expanded to include some taller towers. The study is designed to help identify reasonable and cost-effective measures that might be available to minimize any impacts of the studied towers on birds protected by the ESA and migratory birds.

This Agreement promotes Chairman Powell's action plan, announced in May, to improve the Commission's ability to protect valuable historic and environmental resources, while at the same time accelerating the process of developing necessary communications infrastructure. Specifically, by providing empirical scientific information on bird collisions with towers, the study will help the Commission carry out its environmental responsibility in an efficient, effective, and streamlined manner. On August 20, 2003, the Commission also released a Notice of Inquiry to gather comment and information on the impact that communications towers may have on migratory birds.


Magazine Articles

Radio World February 1, 2003 Fred Baumgartner editorial local copy

Radio Broadcasts

NPR's "Living on Earth" did a story on this issue in December 1998. We aired this program on WMRA. transcript   local copy

NPR story about the August 11, 1999 meeting at Cornell:



The 119th Stated Meeting of the American Ornithologists' Union will be held 15 - 18 August 2001 at Burke Museum, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington,


Spring 1998
Here is a resolution by the North American Ornithological Conference of 1998. Scroll down and view the numbers of window collisions to put this tower "problem" in perspective.



April 1999
117th Meeting of the American Ornithologists' Union
Avian Mortality at Communications Towers
Wednesday, August 11, 1999
Cornell University's Statler Hotel

Brochure on meeting
Meeting Agenda


December 1999
Avian Interactions Workshop held December2, 1999 in Charleston, S.C. and sponsored bny the ELectric Power Research Institute.
USFSW copy   local copy.


Activists Links


Legal Actions citing NEPA:


FWS Reference Room

Migratory Bird / Towers (USFWS) homepage


USFWS copy   Local copy


September 2000 Memo regarding Towers includes interim guidelines for review.
USFWS copy   local copy


Avian Mortality at Communication Towers: A Review of Recent Literature, Research, and Methodology
USFWS copy   local copy.


Fish and Wildlife Service article on the current (2001) status of bird collisions with communication towers, and steps presently being taken to alleviate these problems.
USFWS copy   local copy

The Last Word

Put this on your tower. Recommended by flap.org. Brackets for Rohn 45G and 55g available.



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