There are still tens of thousands of towers though that aren’t bird-friendly.
(Editor’s Note: If your local radio station or cell phone provider hasn’t made this simple change to their boradcasting towers why not organize some local citizens to pressure them to make the change. In this case, it appears, the solution to a big problem truly is not rocket science. – Mark L. Taylor)
By Ben Thorp
It’s likely the only time you really notice one of your neighborhood broadcast and cell towers is at night when they’re lit up with conspicuous bright red lights.
Those lights help pilots see the huge metal structures that can reach 1,000 feet into the air — but they can spell disaster for birds.
In 1976 in Gun Lake, Mich., one tower killed over 2,300 birds in one night, says Caleb Putnam, who works for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. He says for reasons scientists still can’t quite figure out, birds kept flying headlong into towers.
“If that many are dying at one night at one tower and yet there are thousands of towers across the country and as you go across the world, the numbers are staggering,” he says.
Putnam says in North America alone it’s estimated that 7 million birds smash into towers every year. But until recently scientists didn’t know why it was happening.
Figuring that out became biologist Joelle Gehring’s mission. She helped conduct a study in 2003 to find out what could be done.
Gehring, standing recently at a broadcast tower in rural northeast Michigan that belongs to the local radio station, says every morning in the spring or fall — the peak migration season — she and others had the unpleasant job of counting dead birds at the base of these towers.
What she discovered was surprising. …