Audubon Texas, a nonprofit organization focused on bird conservation across the state, launched the Lights Out, Texas! 2022. The education and awareness campaign informs residents about the positive impact turning down their lights at night could have on migrating birds.
According to an Audubon presentation, hundreds of millions of birds are estimated to die every year in building collisions. “Bird losses are at an incredible high right now,” said Andrew Farnsworth, Senior Research Associate at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “The last fifty years we’ve lost about 3 billion birds from North America only.”
One of the factors in building collisions is light pollution. In North America, 80% of migratory birds set out on their journey at night, when they are faced with two problems: “They are attracted and disoriented by light and may collide with structures like buildings, communication towers or even people’s residences,” said Farnsworth. “The other is, because light is so attractive and disorient birds that are moving at night, it brings them to close proximity to areas where they might experience these kinds of hazards the following day.”
This is why Audubon is trying to increase awareness and help people find ways to help. “A very simple concept like turning off the lights at night could have a tremendous impact in the positive for safeguarding birds as they are passing,” added Farnsworth.
“It reduces energy consumption, reduces air pollutants, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and it also results in cost savings,” added Lisa Gonzalez, executive director for Audubon Texas. “It really is a win-win solution both for people and birds.”
“Since the fall of 2020 we’ve seen some incredible response,” continued Farnsworth. “If you want to know well, what can I do? We can tell you! We can tell you when birds are migrating, how many, we could even tell you a number of birds that are passing on a given night and what we’re forecasting will come.”
Birds’ fall migration lasts from August 15 to November 30 with the peak migration period being between September 5 and October 29. If you want to help, put your lights out between 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.
In case you missed it, here’s Local Profile’s guide to helping monarch butterflies during migration.