Wildlife Damage Management, Internet Center for


Date of this Version

November 1979


Tall, man-made structures, such as radio and television towers, monuments, smoke stacks, light houses and other buildings, are known to be lethal obstructions to migrating birds. Not only the tower itself, but the associated guy and electrical wires may cause injury or death to birds, especially the nocturnal migrants. A vast number of mortality reports have already emerged across the country, indicating the seriousness and extent of this problem. Tall TV towers seem to be the most hazardous to avian migrants, causing losses up to 2000 birds in several nights during fall migration in Florida (Stevensen 1956, 1958). Dur- ing an entire fall season 4900 birds were collected at a TV tower in Ontario (Hoskin 1975). Numbers occasionally reach as high as 30,000 birds, as reported from the TV tower at Eau Claire, Wisconsin for two nights in September 1963(Kemper 1964). An ex- tensive annotated bibliography on this subject has been compiled by Avery et al. (1978). Information on mortalities at nuclear power plant structures are relatively scanty; monitoring programs have been initiated at only a few sites. Such observations have been undertaken at the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Plant, where the number of bird kills was lower than reported for many TV towers. Observations also were begun at the four 370-foot cooling towers at Three Mile Island Nuclear Station on the Susquehanna River. During their preoperational reporting period (1973-1974) mortalities were very low (37 specimens). Also during the 1974-1975 operational period, only 29 mortalities were reported (Pentecost and Muraka 1976; Mudge and Firth 1975). No detailed reports are known to be available from the Trojan Nuclear Power Plant situated near Portland, Oregon in the Columbia River Valley, which has a natural draft tower identical to that at the Davis-Besse Plant. Mortalities were reported by Dr. Stanley C. Katkansky, their ecologist, to be of little significance. Only occasional incidents at the tall stacks at Detroit Edison’s Monroe, Michigan plant and the cooling tower at the nearby Fermi site have been reported (Jackson et al. 1977).