One billion birds die every year in window collisions. Migratory species are often lost prior to reproduction during spring migration, while fledglings may be lost in addition while attempting their first migration in the fall. Populations of neotropical migrants can not sustain these losses indefinitely.
Artificial light at night is something many of us can quickly and easily control. Night time lighting causes birds to deviate from their flight path. They become disoriented and often end up trapped in areas that are increasingly inhospitable to them. What once was a successful survival strategy to attempt long flights during a time when navigation is supported by the nighttime stars and sky, absent additional predators, has become confusing and dangerous to them. The night sky is losing it’s darkness and many believe this is not good for any living thing, including people.
What You Can Do
- Avoid any unnecessary lighting
- Put motion sensors on all interior lights to reduce the amount of lighting left on at night, manually turn off remaining lights during critical migration periods such as architectural lighting, interior upper story lights, and lobby or atrium lights
- Ensure the lighting is “fully shielded” prevent light from spilling upwards, installing dark sky compliant zero up lighting
- Install window coverings to prevent the spilling of light from areas where turning lights off is not a viable option
- Choose blue/green spectrum lighting rather than red/white spectrum lighting which is more attractive to birds
- spread the word to others who may not know how significant this step can be towards protecting the environment for all living things
National Attention to Bird Deaths
In an event that drew national attention from the media, a building in Galveston killed almost 400 birds, mostly warblers, in a single evening. Many buildings kill that number during a year, though not usually all at once. The case highlighted the need for building managers and members of the community to work together to prevent catastrophic events like this.
National coverage of this terrible event finally persuaded the building manager to turn off the architectural uplighting during migration seasons. “The lights are what drew the birds to the building, but it was glass windows that ultimately killed them, said Sarah Flournoy, program manager for Houston Audubon, a conservation organization in Texas.”
“What we’re trying to get people to understand is that it isn’t one particular building,” Flournoy said. “This is something that the community needs to come together and work on. It’s more of a widespread challenge. It’s our hope that … [this incident] will create awareness of the problem, and how to generate a great solution.”
Information from Safe Skies Maryland https://safeskiesmaryland.org/