Bird Collisions and Communication Towers

Each year, approximately 7 million birds collide with communication towers in North America.

These collisions are primarily caused by steady-burning lights used on towers to warn aircraft of their presence. Unfortunately, these lights also attract and disorient birds during the night. Although tower collisions threaten all birds—especially when skies are overcast or foggy—they pose a special danger to songbirds migrating at night. Making matters worse, the number of communication towers in the U.S. is expected to continue growing in coming years. (Photo: Rich Anderson/Flickr)

Communication tower with steady-burning lights. Photo: Rich Anderson/Flickr

Communication Towers: Answer Comes in a Flash

A simple solution to reduce bird fatalities exists: flashing lights. Unlike steady-burning lights, flashing lights pose little danger to birds. In fact, their use can reduce nighttime bird fatalities by as much as 70 percent. And that is not the only benefit of using flashing light systems:

  • The elimination of steady-burning lights greatly reduces operation and maintenance costs for tower operators;
  • The change can be made inexpensively and reduces energy use;
  • The use of flashing lights will help bring the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the tower industry into compliance with the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and other laws protecting migratory birds. (Photo: the_tahoe_guy/Flickr)

Communication towers pose a threat to all birds in cloudy conditions. Photo: the_tahoe_guy/Flickr

How You Can Help

Check out our online resources to learn more about how you can create a safer environment for birds by reducing communication tower collisions and fatalities.