Each year, it is estimated that millions of birds collide with communication towers. Joelle Gehring of the Michigan Natural Features Inventory at Michigan State University and her colleagues discovered that a simple alteration of the lighting scheme on these towers may reduce bird mortality by as much as 71 percent.
The authors compared avian fatalities, mostly of tropical migrating songbirds, at towers equipped with different combinations of red and white strobe-like, flashing or steady-burning lights. The researchers found fewer dead birds under towers equipped with only red or white flashing lights.
Towers that were lit under the current Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations of a combination of red flashing and non-flashing lights had significantly more avian fatalities than those lit only with flashing lights.
The authors point out that a change of this type would be of little cost to the tower owners, since most of the lighting infrastructure is already in place.
- Gehring J., P. Kerlinger, A.M. Manville II. Communication towers, lights, and birds: successful methods of reducing the frequency of avian collisions. Ecological Applications, 2009; 19 (2): 505 DOI: 10.1890/07-1708.1
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