Bird Collisions at Communication Towers

Lighted towers at night in Washington, DC, 2005 by Mike Parr, ABC

Lighted towers at night in Washington, DC, 2005 by Mike Parr, ABC


The Challenge

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that as many as 7 million birds are killed each year at communications towers. The aviation warning lights on the towers disrupt the birds’ celestial navigation and draw them into a halo of light. The birds then become trapped and circle endlessly, colliding with each other and the tower, or eventually dropping to the ground from exhaustion.


ABC Conservation Framework

This program fits into two the category Eliminating Threatsof within ABC's conservation Framework.
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Primary Birds Impacted

At least 231 species have been affected, with neotropical migrants making up a large proportion of all species killed. WatchList species killed in significant number include the Wood Thrush, Golden-winged Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, and Seaside Sparrow.



Preventing these needless deaths can be as simple as changing a light bulb! By switching from steady-burning lights to strobe lights, bird kills can be dramatically reduced without sacrificing aviation safety. For more than ten years, however, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the government agency that licenses the towers, has been dragging its feet in implementing these and other regulations to prevent bird kills.


For more information see:


Fish and Wildlife Service Voluntary Guidelines on the siting of towers.


The ABC's of Avoiding Collisions at Communication Towers (USFWS document)


Download a Google Earth kmz file showing the location of every tower in the U.S. (as of March 2009). Requires Google Earth program to be installed on your PC (free download here)

ABC Results

ABC Results Button

American Bird Conservancy and its partners have reached an agreement with the telecommunications on the construction of new towers that would dramatically reduce bird deaths without imposing major delays or costs to the industry. If the agreement is accepted by the FCC, it would mean that, for the first time, the worst towers for birds will be subject to a true environmental assessment that should reduce impacts on birds. 

ABC Results Button

ABC produced the seminal report Communication Towers: A Deadly Hazard to Birds, which details the extent of the bird collision problem and analyses dozens of studies, and also commisioned the report Scientific Basis To Establish Policy Regulating
Communications Towers To Protect Migratory Birds

ABC Results Button ABC proposed, advocated for, and helped design a study that is now ongoing to measure the visibility of towers to pilots when steady-burning red side lights (AT10) are either turned off or made to flash. Modification to these most dangerous of tower lights would dramatically reduce bird deaths.
ABC Results Button ABC has helped prevent or modify the construction of several towers that would pose a risk to birds, and has provided resources to individuals fighting tower construction locally.


What Next?

What Next Button The tower lighting study must be completed to enable modification of tower side marker lights
What Next Button ABC continues to pressure the FCC to initiate lighting requirements on existing towers to minimize bird impacts

Take Action

ABC needs your help in urging the FCC to act now to safeguard our neotropical migratory songbirds for future generations of Americans. Use our automated system to send an email to the FCC today.