Regulatory Overview

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Bird Watch Team


Hawk perched on a monopine tower

As spring approaches each year, nesting season begins in many parts of the country. This means some American Tower communications sites serve as preferred nesting spots for a variety of bird species. Birds find towers and other elevated structures to be attractive nesting and roosting platforms. These structures often rise above the surrounding tree line and serve as the tallest structure in proximity to wetlands or waterways where the birds feed. Occasionally, some of our tower ice bridges, shelters and graveled compounds are used by birds for nesting purposes. Fewer sites are found to be used as roosting sites for vultures and other birds in a given year.

Most bird species in the U.S. are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). The MBTA makes it illegal to "pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill, attempt to take, capture or kill, possess, offer for sale, sell, offer to purchase, purchase, deliver for shipment, ship, cause to be shipped, deliver for transportation, transport, cause to be transported, carry, or cause to be carried by any means whatever, receive for shipment, transportation or carriage, or export, at any time, or in any manner, any migratory bird, included in the terms of this Convention…for the protection of migratory birds…or any part, nest, or egg of any such bird.” (16 U.S.C 703)

Other federal regulations protecting birds that may be encountered at American Tower sites include the Endangered Species Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. In addition to these federal protections, some states may also have regulations in place protecting certain species. For our purposes, these laws establish that no person should harm or harass a bird, ignore an injured bird or disturb a nest. These activities may be considered a "take," a criminal act where individual liability may be imposed regardless of one's affiliation with a company.

When we encounter bird activity at one of our sites, American Tower has two main objectives: keeping protected birds and their active nests safe and keeping our customers, contractors and employees safe. We have a standard practice in place to identify, evaluate and address bird activity at American Tower sites to achieve these objectives.