Tip of the Week: Turn Off the Lights to Help Nocturnal Migrant Birds Find Their Way

Every year, billions of birds migrate north in the spring and south in the fall, the majority of them flying at night, navigating with the night sky. However, as they pass over big cities on their way, they can become disoriented by bright artificial lights and skyglow, often causing them to collide with buildings or windows.

While lights can throw birds off their migration paths, bird fatalities are more directly caused by the amount of energy the birds waste flying around and calling out in confusion. The exhaustion can then leave them vulnerable to other urban threats.

The strategy is simple: by convincing building owners and managers to turn off excess lighting during the months migrating birds are flying overhead, we help to provide them safe passage between their nesting and wintering grounds.

You can help by doing the following at your home and educating others to do the same:

  • Turn off exterior decorative lighting
  • Extinguish pot and flood-lights
  • Reduce atrium lighting wherever possible
  • Turn off interior lighting especially on higher stories
  • Substitute task and area lighting for workers staying late or pull window coverings
  • Down-shield exterior lighting to eliminate horizontal glare and all light directed upward
  • Install automatic motion sensors and controls wherever possible
  • When converting to new lighting assess quality and quantity of light needed, avoiding over-lighting with newer, brighter technology

Learn more about the Lights Out program on the Audubon website.