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Please help with a survey about birds and cell phone towers

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Old Friday 21st July 2017, 12:32   #1
Purple Heron
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Please help with a survey about birds and cell phone towers

Birds have been disappearing from the island of Samos, Greece since local wireless (cell phone) towers were upgraded to 4G two years ago. By winter of last year, there were virtually no birds left. My husband and I did a lot of research to determine if cell tower radiation could be affecting the birds and concluded that it might be because no other environmental factors had changed.

We wanted to know if this was happening in other parts of Greece, so we went on an extended trip to the important birding sites of northern Greece. We found that this problem is not confined to Samos. There are new cell towers everywhere, many areas have been upgraded to 4G, and bird numbers are way down, especially in 4G areas.

I have written a document, "Birds and Trees of Northern Greece", which details our findings. It is attached. Please read it to get a picture of what is happening.

I would like to hear from anyone who has observed similar phenomena in his or her area. I am particularly interested in finding out is anyone has observed a decrease in bird populations after cell towers are upgraded to 4G, but you may also have noticed changes where towers are 3G, where there is Wi-Fi, (e.g. town centers) and where smart meters (these emit a signal similar to Wi-Fi) have been installed. You might also have noticed changes in birds' behavior, nesting patterns, number of chicks, etc.

While there are many studies on the effects of electromagnetic radiation on birds (see links in my document) there are very few observational studies. Your input would be extremely valuable.
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Old Saturday 22nd July 2017, 22:55   #2
katastrofa
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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Towerkill
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Old Monday 24th July 2017, 12:04   #3
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Thanks, but towerkill is not what I mean. That too is a problem, though.
Although Wikipedia can be useful, you do have to consider the source of information when you assess it. Wikipedia is owned by Google, which is heavily invested in wireless technology, and articles on Wikipedia tend to deny or downplay the harmful effects of non-ionizng radiation. However, even the WHO, which is being very slow to acknowledge said harmful effects, classify non-ionizing radiation as a class IIB, which put it at the same level as DDT or lead, neither of which we want in our environment.
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Old Monday 24th July 2017, 12:48   #4
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Originally Posted by Purple Heron View Post
Although Wikipedia can be useful, you do have to consider the source of information when you assess it. Wikipedia is owned by Google, which is heavily invested in wireless technology, and articles on Wikipedia tend to deny or downplay the harmful effects of non-ionizng radiation.
Sorry, but wikipedia is not owned by google, it is owned by the independent Wikimedia Foundation and is not subject to any outside editorial control. Whether it is accurate or not is another matter - that depends on the scientific rigour of the thousands of individual editors who write it.
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Old Monday 24th July 2017, 12:48   #5
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Wikipedia is owned by Google
No it's not. Got any more conspiracy theories?
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Old Monday 24th July 2017, 14:35   #6
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Anecdotes are not science. Whilst the WHO may say mobile phone radiation may possibly cause cancer that is simply a catch all catagory; as in it has neither been proved to cause cancer nor proved not too. Most things in the world fall into that category. The WHO has also said that there is no credible evidence of any health risks from mobile phone radiation.
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Old Monday 24th July 2017, 16:27   #7
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While there are many studies on the effects of electromagnetic radiation on birds (see links in my document) there are very few observational studies. Your input would be extremely valuable.
I have checked out your cited references. The on-line items largely have no evidence of peer-review. Those that are journal papers are mostly behind paywalls and so far I haven't found where any of the authors have put the papers on reputable science depositories to which I have access, such as ResearchGate. A couple of the papers allow access to abstracts, which do mention concerns that are similar to yours. The one paper to which I did gain access was properly cautious in its view that high-intensity 4G signals over time may have some effects that only further research could quantify.

Although a common theme through a number of the on-line articles was that there did appear to be a correlation between plant die-back around 3G and 4G towers, there was no mention of controlling for a host of factors, such as topography, altitude, current pest-borne diseases, bird population trends in identical habitats lacking signal towers, seasonal factors and the like. Until such studies can be done or are taken into account, there's little likelihood of being able to establish robust causal links.

Now I'm not dismissing out of hand your concerns, because there is a long history of research into a huge spectrum of energy distribution studies concentrating on immediate and long-term exposures: infrared, light, uv, electronic to X-ray and nuclear, and I think it right that proven research methods across the disciplines should indeed be carried out on the issues you have raised, but first these would need to be funded. I would certainly be interested in such research on 3G and 4G towers.

However, it's not sensible to declare a belief that you know where the problem is and then dismiss any current evidence to the contrary as conspiracy. The counter-evidence on examination may be found imperfect or constrained, but again it may not. Your reliability as an advocate for more research into the subject is crippled if you keep making unsupported assertions such as Google owning Wikipedia, which is easily disproved, no matter how often you repeat it.
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Old Monday 24th July 2017, 16:43   #8
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Those that are journal papers are mostly behind paywalls
There's always sci-hub, if you want to get hold of those papers
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Old Tuesday 25th July 2017, 13:31   #9
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To MJB--I'm not dismissing counter evidence as conspiracy, but I do think that where enormous financial interests are concerned, it makes sense to ask [i]Cui bono[i]? The telecoms companies are huge, and from what I can see the entire economic future of the planet is being predicated on the Internet of Things, driverless cars, robotics and the like. So there is huge industry pressure when it comes to funding scientists o get a result that says wireless frequencies aren't harmful, and a severe lack of funding for those scientists who are saying "Maybe this isn't such a good idea." Think about it: what sort of economic growth is envisioned that is NOT being driven by wireless, robotics, GPS, IoT? So if it turns out that wireless frequencies are causing cancer in humans, killing birds, etc. there is going to be an almighty crash, because everyone is putting too many economic eggs into one basket.

I don't have the reference, but the NIH recently completed part I of a 14-year study on the effects of wireless on rats, and they found a lot of brain tumors (glioblastomas etc) and other cancers in the group exposed to wireless frequencies. Rare brain tumors like these are on the rise.

I may have been wrong about Google owning Wikipedia, but an article in Zero Hedge (July 23, 2017) quotes Statista in its article "Google is the Biggest Lobbying Speaker in Tech". Google is currently seeking US government permission to send up weather balloons to broadcast 5G down onto the earth's surface (SpaceX wants to send up satellites to do the same thing) so that there will be no areas without reception. If I am right about 4G killing birds, what is 5G going to do--to them and to us? 5G may be only three years away.

While I am all for more studies, I would be a lot happier if the time frame weren't so tight. Unless we are absolutely sure a technology is harmless, we should not be continually upgrading it. Perhaps I have failed to prove that it is harmful, but can anyone prove it isn't? My own observations tell me that it is very harmful indeed.

This is why I would really like to know if other people have observed changes in bird populations when cell towers have been upgraded. Sure, it's anecdotal evidence. That doesn't mean it is totally without value. A lot of places are still 3G--most of England is--whereas other countries have upgraded most of their infrastructure to 4G. In those places people might have noticed a difference in bird numbers--or not. I won't know until someone actually tells me what they have/haven't observed.
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Old Tuesday 25th July 2017, 14:43   #10
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Lithuania, where I live, is ranked first in Europe and third globally for 4G internet coverage.

By the year's end, 95% of the country will have access to 4G, on course to becoming second globally (compares to about 60% in Greece and the UK) - can't say I have noticed any general catastrophic collapses in bird population - as always, some increases, some declines, none I personally see with any particular connection to phone towers.

One example where I can quantify - my feeding station is adjacent to two phone towers, which like all others has gone 4G - I monitor through ringing the winter population at my feeding sites: results do not bear out an overall decline.

Most common species (winters 2013-2014/2014-2015/2015-2016/2016-2017):

Great Tit: 224 / 169 / 132 /249
Blue Tit: 42 / 70 / 35 / 91
Marsh Tit: 14 / 16 / 27 / 18
Willow Tit: 4 / 4 / 7 / 7
Nuthatch: 6 / 1 / 5 / 7
Siskin: 10 / 5 / - / 32

All other species, several species of woodpecker etc, in smaller numbers, but no particular overall increase or decrease.

Combining all species at the feeding station, total tally of wintering birds has gone from 370 in 2013-2014 to 435 in 2016-2017 - no obvious sign that the 4G is affecting them.
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Old Tuesday 25th July 2017, 16:17   #11
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Having two threads covering the same subject is never a good idea.
Can I suggest the moderators merge them if that's possible.

http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=347991

My last post covers the same basic point as Jos above.

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Old Tuesday 25th July 2017, 17:59   #12
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Originally Posted by Jos Stratford View Post
Lithuania, where I live, is ranked first in Europe and third globally for 4G internet coverage.

By the year's end, 95% of the country will have access to 4G, on course to becoming second globally (compares to about 60% in Greece and the UK) - can't say I have noticed any general catastrophic collapses in bird population - as always, some increases, some declines, none I personally see with any particular connection to phone towers.

One example where I can quantify - my feeding station is adjacent to two phone towers, which like all others has gone 4G - I monitor through ringing the winter population at my feeding sites: results do not bear out an overall decline.

Most common species (winters 2013-2014/2014-2015/2015-2016/2016-2017):

Great Tit: 224 / 169 / 132 /249
Blue Tit: 42 / 70 / 35 / 91
Marsh Tit: 14 / 16 / 27 / 18
Willow Tit: 4 / 4 / 7 / 7
Nuthatch: 6 / 1 / 5 / 7
Siskin: 10 / 5 / - / 32

All other species, several species of woodpecker etc, in smaller numbers, but no particular overall increase or decrease.

Combining all species at the feeding station, total tally of wintering birds has gone from 370 in 2013-2014 to 435 in 2016-2017 - no obvious sign that the 4G is affecting them.
Bravo for the diligence and research you've done.
It can be difficult getting straight answers with so much money at stake with these issues.
Assuming you have no dog in the fight financially, your research certainly clarifies.

It would be interesting to see what findings you would have had twenty years ago, before any "G" was present.
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Old Tuesday 25th July 2017, 18:28   #13
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Bravo for the diligence and research you've done.
It can be difficult getting straight answers with so much money at stake with these issues.
It would be interesting to see what findings you would have had twenty years ago, before any "G" was present.
Not sure it is really diligence, it is just that my main winter activity is my feeding station and I constant effort ring all birds and thus monitor numbers - the phone masks appeared a year after I began my feeding station, yet I have not seen any overall reduction in species in the last fifteen years, some years numbers are lower, generally relating to milder winters, some years numbers are higher. Some species see a drop in one year, recover in others. No consistent drop in species at my feeding station.

Some breeding species are decreasing, eg Spotted Flycatchers and Yellow Wagtails (this has been a Europewide issue for decades), but others are showing notable increases, especially wetland birds such as Sedge Warbler (on my plot this is largely due to habitat changes resulting from extensive beaver action - closed canopy woodland becoming open water, developing into an extensive marsh).

Long and short of it is that I personally find it difficult to equate any of the changes that have occurred in my area with the presence of the masks - this is not necessarily to say there isn't impact, but it is certainly not leading to mass reductions across the spectrum of small species that the OP is suggesting. With the masks in my area, my main concern was collision risk of the numerous storks (a dozen pairs nest within +/- 500 metres) or raptors (numerous Buzzards, Lesser Spotted Eagles, etc) in the area with the long cables that stabilize the mask, but till now I have not witnessed any incident or found casualties. The Buzzards like the cables to use as perching places.


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Assuming you have no dog in the fight financially, your research certainly clarifies.
If Bite or Telia (the country's biggest operators) are reading and wish to offer me a free phone and year's free mobile usage for this friendly post, please contact me by private message :)
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Last edited by Jos Stratford : Tuesday 25th July 2017 at 18:38.
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Old Wednesday 26th July 2017, 09:26   #14
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Thanks, Jos, for your observations. I would definitely be glad of more information where people can compare previous years as you have. One thing I have observed is that tits hang in there longer when cell towers go to 4G. Here on Samos we only get great tits locally, near the cell towers (there are blue and coal tits in the high mountains but so far there are no towers there) and they were almost the last species to disappear. I don't know why. In town, once all the cafes put in wi-fi, all the sparrows disappeared. I don't suppose you have any information about sparrow populations in Lithuania?
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Old Saturday 29th July 2017, 13:51   #15
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Vanishing sparrows

Electromagnetic radiation from cell towers may explain why sparrows are vanishing from the world's cities. See attached study.
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File Type: pdf Balmori_and_Hallberg_EBM_2007.pdf (476.4 KB, 130 views)
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Old Saturday 29th July 2017, 18:43   #16
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I don't suppose you have any information about sparrow populations in Lithuania?
House Sparrows are not particularly abundant in Lithuania, weren't before mobile phones towers went up, aren't now - mostly in fairly small numbers in the towns, some more rural. Tree Sparrows however are quite common, both in urban and rural areas. Have a flock of up to 80 at my winter feeders, breed in nestboxes and natural sites in summer. Population in my area at least has been stable in the years since towers appeared - don't have data for nationwide, but I don't get the impression that there has been a decline.
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Last edited by Jos Stratford : Saturday 29th July 2017 at 18:51.
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