Lights Out for Bird Migration
by Sydney Boogaard, spring intern
Throughout the Earth’s history, plants and animal species have relied on the sun and moon’s orbital cycles to govern such behaviors as reproduction, sleep, nourishment, protection, and migration. But scientific evidence is indicating that human’s use of artificial light at night is negatively affecting many creatures and the world’s ecosystems.
Artificial light can have devastating effects on nocturnal animals, sea creatures, wetland habitats, and numerous bird species.
Birds, in particular, use moonlight and starlight to help navigate their flight path during migration and hunting. Nearly two-thirds of migratory birds use the cover of night to travel. Artificial light impedes their ability to stay on course. It causes them to wander off their route and become disoriented. They lose their sense of direction and wind up in the midst of city landscapes. This puts them at risk for colliding with reflective and illuminated windows, buildings, and towers.
Every year millions of birds are killed via collisions caused by artificial light. Migrating birds also rely on signals from the environment to cue their departure. Artificial light can cause them to migrate too soon or too late, resulting in the loss of ideal conditions for nesting and feeding.
All of these reasons are why the “Lights Out” campaign got started.
Lights Out is a national initiative to reduce and stop this crisis. The approach is simple: turn your lights off from 11pm–6am during migration season (March–May & August–October). You can also use warm/white bulbs with temperatures less than 3000 K, choose covers to direct light downward, place covers on all outdoor lights, and place motion sensors on all outdoor lights.
Tracy Aviary has kick-started this program locally with a simple and informative infographic.
You can take the Lights Out Pledge and turn off all lights between the hours of 11pm-6am during peak bird migration times: March-May and August-October.
The pledge also includes a free yard sign that is available for pick-up at the Aviary.
We hope you will pledge to turn off all unnecessary lights during peak migration periods to help protect and secure our bird populations.
If you have any further questions or comments about getting involved, contact Cooper Farr, Tracy Aviary Conservation Science Program: cooperf [at] tracyaviary.org