Commission notice seeks comment on impact of towers on migratory birds

Be kind to your fine feathered friends is the admonition of the commission these days as it issues a notice of inquiry (NOI) to gather information and comment on the impact communications towers have on migratory birds.

Each year thousands of birds migrate throughout the U.S. and Canada. Little is known, however, about how many of these birds die along the way due to collisions with communications towers.

“This inquiry is part of the commission’s environmental and historic preservation action plan announced by Chairman Powell in May 2003,” explained a commission statement announcing the NOI. “The adopted NOI is one of many continuing efforts to protect environmental resources while at the same time accelerating the deployment of communications infrastructure that is critical to the rapid rollout of advanced communications services, as well as for public safety and homeland security.”

The proliferation of towers for broadcast, personal communication service, special mobile radio and other commission licensed communications services may interfere with the migratory flight of birds seeking warmer climates in the winter.

The commission is seeking to find out the numbers of migratory birds killed by collisions with towers or supporting structures and any information on associated factors, such as lighting systems, tower height, type of support structure, that might affect the hazard such birds face from communications towers. Specifically it is seeking information systematic research in three areas:

  • The number of migratory bird collisions with communications towers backed up by evidence and the role weather, lighting, antenna structure, tower height and other factors play in the number of collisions.
  • Whether existing or proposed research has or will address this subject and what steps are required to encourage such studies.
  • If steps might be taken when citing and building towers to minimize harmful impact on migratory birds, if such steps are supported by empirical evidence and how such measure could affect the ability of license holders to deliver service.

Additionally, the NOI seeks input from Indian Tribes and others parties “on whether any of the questions raised in this inquiry will significantly impact Tribal governments, their land, and resources.”

Those wishing to submit comments should contact Bill Stafford at (202) 418-0563 or e-mail

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