New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office recommendations for project proposals involving Communication Towers



The Migratory Bird Treaty Act provides for a year-round closed season for non-game birds and prohibits the taking of migratory birds, nests, and eggs, except as permitted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Many migratory birds are killed each year as a result of tower collisions. With recent expansions in various communications markets (e.g., cellular, digital television, etc.), tower construction is expected to increase. In poor weather conditions, such as low cloud ceiling, fog, rain, or poor visibility, communication towers may not be visible to migrating birds and can cause massive bird kills because nocturnal migrating species are attracted by lights on towers under these conditions. Potential impacts to migratory birds would progressively increase in rural areas. Towers greater than 200 feet in height and towers with lights are known threats to migrating birds. The New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office recommends first co-locating transmitters and other equipment on existing towers whenever possible. Towers requiring or otherwise using lighting should use white flashing strobe lights as opposed to a continuous light or red beacon light. Light attributes that reduce danger to migrating birds include dim lights, and lights with long flash time intervals and short flash duration. These have been demonstrated to reduce the danger to migrating birds. Obsolete, non-functional towers in the area should be removed if possible. Please also refer to: http://migratorybirds.fws.gov/issues/towers/comtow.html for additional information on this topic.