So, you call this work?

A trip to the WSPK transmitter site on a pleasant day, or, one could say, another day at the “office.”  Tower painting season is here, I’ll post some more about that later.  This is a nice set of pictures from the top of Mt. Beacon, in Beacon, NY.

Hudson Valley looking north from Mt. Beacon
Hudson Valley looking north from Mt. Beacon

South Mount  Beacon with the old fire tower:

Mount Beacon looking south at the old fire tower
Mount Beacon looking south at the old fire tower

Tower farm; two TV stations, Media Flow, one radio station, three translators, several cell carriers, one paging company, some government two way gear, and a few microwave relays.  The 320 foot guyed tower in the center holds the main (top) and backup (bottom) antennas for WSPK:

Mount Beacon Tower Farm
Mount Beacon Tower Farm

Tower climbers ascending a 320 foot tower.  This picture (and all the others as well) was taken with my HTC smartphone camera, proving the old adage, sometimes it is better to be lucky than good:

Tower workers on 320 foot guyed tower
Tower workers on 320 foot guyed tower

View from the ATC site at the very top of North Mount Beacon of the tower workers painting the top of the tower:

Tower workers painting torque arms on 320 foot guyed tower
Tower workers painting torque arms on 320 foot guyed tower

Another view from the ground:

Tower workers on Mt Beacon tower
Tower workers on Mt Beacon tower

All in all, not a bad day.

WICC WEBE damaged tower removal

Damaged in last year’s F1 tornado, this thirty foot Rohn 25-G tower needed to be removed from the roof. It actually went faster than I though it would, the worst part being moving the 4 foot tower sections down to the salvage truck via elevator. Naturally, the day we choose to do this is the same day that one of the two elevators servicing the seventh floor is out of order.

Damaged Rohn 25G STL tower on roof of studio
Damaged Rohn 25G STL tower on roof of studio

This was the same tornado that picked up a twenty ton roof top air conditioner and deposited it in the parking lot.  Luck would have it that no one was killed or injured.

Rohn 25G buckled tower section
Rohn 25G buckled tower section

Using a circular saw with a metal blade, a sawsall and a hand grinder, the tower was cut up into four foot sections.   The sections, brackets and tower base were taken to the scrap yard and disposed of.

Tower and transmission lines
Tower and transmission lines ready to be removed from roof

There were several lengths of unused 7/8 inch foam coax, broken antennas, RG-59- RG-58, RG-6, rotor cable, etc that we cleaned off of the roof and tower.

The after picture
The after picture

A good little project to have completed.

The studio build out for WEBE is also nearly done.  August will mark one year of our company’s involvement at WICC/WEBE.  I was looking around today and comparing the difference between when we started to now.  Many things have been done.

Where are, repeat, Where are all the dead birds?

I am reading up on American Bird Conservancy v. FCC. I must admit, I am a bit ignorant on all this bird v. tower stuff.  After all, in my 25 to 30 years of working in radio, in and around towers almost every day, I have rarely seen a dead bird.  By rarely, I mean I recall seeing exactly three dead birds at the base of towers.  One, a mysterious looking songbird under a 1000 foot tower in Harrisburg, PA.  Another, a Pileated Woodpecker that flew into a chain link fence.  The third was a half eaten dead crow that likely met his fate at the hands of the resident Red Tailed Hawk, who hung out on the tower looking for meals.

Even so, the FCC is going to hold hearings on this important matter, because it is so important.   They also have finished all their other work and have nothing else to do.

According to the web site Towerkill.com, millions of birds have been killed because they have flown into communications towers.  In the FAQ section:

Thousands of migrant songbirds killed in a night at a single 1000-foot high television tower

I couldn’t reach BioFile Services, the domain owner, on their cellphone for comment.

I have been to hundreds of tower sites in states up and down the eastern seaboard, California and Guam.  In all that time, I can only account for one bird that may have died by flying into a tower.  Were are all the other ones?  Surely, when they hit the tower, they fall almost straight down, on account of gravity and the other laws of physics.  That means the terrible carnage would be evident near the base of the tower, right?

The above mentioned web site states that tall towers that are in foggy areas and are lit at night pose the greatest risk.

Case in point:

1. WBNR, which has two 405 foot towers, is located along the Hudson River so it is often fogged in at night.  The towers have four levels of lights with flashing beacons at the 200 and 400 foot levels.  The site is also on a major N/S migration route for birds.  Further still, it has a lawn extending 200-300 feet from the base of all the towers.  This was the former studio location from 1959 until 1998.  In the ten years I worked there, I did not see one dead bird, nor has the tenant that lives in the building.  No employees that worked at the former studio location recall seeing any dead birds either.

2.  Mount Beacon, a group of 5 towers ranging up to 300 feet tall near the summit of mount beacon, around the 1200 feet AMSL.  Certainly these towers stick way up into the flight paths of migratory birds.  One tower is lit at night with a red beacon light and it is often foggy.  The area round the base of the towers is gravel/dirt and cleared away for at least 100 feet.  Still, no bird carcases.  Nearby, however, there is a group of Bald Eagles, which have taken up residence in some of the craggy rocks.

3.  Illinois Mountain, Highland, NY: Same story

4.  Clove Mountain, Unionvale, NY: Same story

5.  Mount Zion, Highland, NY: Same Story

6.  Helderburg Escarpment, New Scottland, NY which has towers for the following stations: WRGB, WRVE, WFLY, WYJB, WPYX, WGNA, WMHT, WTEN, and WXXA: Same Story

7.  Mount Equinox, Manchester, VT: Same Story

8.  Pico Mountain, Rutland, VT: Same Story

9.  WHP transmitter site, Enola, PA, six towers 410 feet tall: Same Story

10.  WGY tower site, Schenectady, NY: 620 foot tower, same story

11.  WHP-TV/WITF Harrisburg:  The only place I saw a dead bird at the base of a tower.

I could continue with the no dead birds found and include tower sites for WROW, WRZN, WDVH, WKZY, WXPK, WLNA, WKBO, WTPA, WIZR, WENT, and so on.

I would testify to these facts under oath.

There may actually be a few towers out there that are located in a position to inadvertently kill birds and that is unfortunate.  The majority of towers, however, are no more deadly to birds than other man made structures like houses and office buildings.  I can think of at least two dozen times that I have been working in the office or sitting at home and there is a great big “THUNK!”  Outside there is a dead bird under the window.  While that is regrettable, I am not going to take the glass out of my windows.

I also see many dead birds on the side of the road when I am walking or riding my bike.

Human pets, especially cats take a huge toll on wild birds.

Loss of natural habitat from development takes a toll on birds.

This is a Red Herring.  It is time to put this foolishness to bed and get back to the business at hand.