Three birds noted in 38 years of avian observation

Discussion in 'Design, Development and Standards Discussions' started by dave firis, Dec 31, 2008.

  1. dave firis

    dave firis Friend of the Community

    I wish to state that during the 38 years that I have been a radio hobbyist and professional I have never seen more than 2 or 3 bird carcasses in the vicinity of radio towers. I have been a tower owner for 24 years and have owned / operated more than 3700' of radio towers ranging from 56' to 396' in height, some of which are lit. All the lit towers are with an incandescent red system and painted in bands of red and white. These are guyed type towers and are located in Northern Ohio and West Pennsylvannia. Many were built in the early 1960s.

    If bird collisions were any real or sizeable concern, I would think that there would be piles of dead birds under the guy systems at these sites. THIS IS NOT THE CASE. As I mentioned earlier, I've seen a TOTAL of 2-3 dead birds at tower sites in my entire life.

    I'd also like to comment on the neatest thing I've ever seen at a tower site, because it has some relevance here: In 1990 just after construction of a 396' tower Wadsworth, Ohio, I chanced to be at the site at dusk. There were 2 bats flying around the sets of guys as if they were a solid wall. Never once during the 1/2 hour or so that I watched, did either bat fly between the guys even though the spacing (vertical) was around 40? at the tower (10 sets of guy on 2 sets of anchors). They perceived the guy system as 3 solid walls and would typically skim a few feet either side of the (imaginary) "wall", make a 30 degree turn at the tower and then skim the adjacent "wall".

    I suspect that if unlit obstructions are really a problem, I can only surmise that telephone and power lines are a much greater problem as most avian activity is probably under 100' above ground level. I believe that much of the reason the some carcasses may be found at tower sites is that they stay there longer because those sites are less populated areas (fewer dogs and cats that will carry them away).

    As long as this is under consideration, I would suggest the FAA & FCC ELIMINATE the lighting requirement entirely for towers under 300',400' or 500'. This would also eliminate a majority of towers that require lightning and painting. I believe that much of general aviation is going away, when figured as a percentage of the general population.

    Commercial Aviation is generally (All?) IFR and never gets anywhere near radio towers. With IFR there is not much need for obstruction lighting. If it is proven that incandescent light IS a cause of bird collisions, elimination for towers under 300',400', or 500' could be a reasonable way to address the issue. This could also streamline much bureaucracy and expenses at the FAA & FCC, let alone save a lot of money and energy consumption for guys like me.

    I believe that it was a mistake for the FCC to move into the regulation of towers beyond any "interstate communication" concerns 11 years ago. To even consider changing any lighting requirements for birds is way beyond any possible extension of the "regulation of interstate commerce". I believe that most people "outside the beltway" would also feel as I do.

    Lastly, I can tell you that any forced change of lighting toward strobes would be a major hardship for guys like me as the typical cost of a system (about $3,000 PLUS Installation of $1-$2,000) would be a major percentage of what I have invested in the total site (which is typically around $17,000). Those towers would probably be dropped as I cannot afford major changes like that. As an alternative these might also be reduced to 199' height.

    I also believe that when you figure maintenance and interest (on the additional capital expense), strobes are far more costly than incandescent systems, particularly in lightning prone areas.

    I have been licensed since 1970 originally as WN8KVT, then WB8KVT and now (Advanced Class) AL7OP. I also hold General Radiotelephone License # PG-19-10300 since (originally 2nd Class Radiotelephone) 1976.

    Thank you for your consideration,

    David W. Firis AL7OP
    Owner, Firis Communications Center
    486 Akron Rd
    Wadsworth. Ohio 44281-9487

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