Start the New Year Off Right by Turning Out Your Lights

Welcome to 2021! It’s hard to believe that it’s already been a full year since we celebrated New York’s bird-friendly building law. Speaking of bird-friendly initiatives (and fresh starts), we thought we’d kick off the New Year by exploring various Lights Out Programs and how light pollution and window collisions affect bird populations across North America.

Research has shown that artificial lights interfere with seasonal bird behaviours such as breeding, nesting, and migration rituals. As Dark Sky points out, many bird species are dependent upon seasonal lighting cues to inform their migratory and behaviours.

The presence of artificial light often causes birds “to migrate too early or too late and miss ideal climate conditions for nesting, foraging and other behaviors.” Due to the disturbances caused by artificial light, many species will suffer from inadequate food and shelter, which ultimately affects their ability to reproduce and survive.

Migratory birds are especially vulnerable to bright city lights that they encounter at night and, unfortunately, millions of them become disoriented and collide with windows before reaching their destination.

However citizens, business owners, and organizations have the resources to prevent collisions for good. We believe that by using Feather Friendly® bird deterrent markers and getting involved in “Lights Out” initiatives, citizens can drastically reduce bird collisions during the day and at night.

What Do Lights Out Programs Do?

The Fatal Light Awareness Program, or FLAP Canada, was founded in 1993 after Michael Mesure found a common yellow throat that had collided with a window. Since then, FLAP’s team has committed itself to raising awareness of the dangers of window collisions and light pollution through unique program offerings.

FLAP’s mission has inspired other organizations to launch their own programs, which aim to keep migrating and local birds safe, by turning off exterior and interior lights at night. Currently, there are many cities across North America that have started their own Lights Out programs.

By helping local building managers incorporate bird-friendly materials and practices into their existing routines and structures, these nation-wide initiatives protect migratory birds from window collisions.

Here are few North American cities that participate in Lights Out Programs:

  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Houston, Texas
  • Kansas City, Missouri
  • Toronto, Ontario
  • New York, New York
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Denver, Colorado
  • Columbus, Ohio

It’s important to note that over half of the cities that are listed above intersect with migratory flyways. In fact, several of these cities have already been recognized as especially deadly for migratory birds. Because major city centers are located along these flyways, birds are most likely to collide with windows during the day and at night.

However, Lights Out programs have successfully reduced bird collision rates, and the City of Chicago reports that, since beginning their program, “Chicago’s tall buildings in the Loop have served as an example to the nation as they save 10,000 birds’ lives annually.”

Protecting migratory birds has proven to be effective in more ways than just one: Chicago’s building owners have reported a decrease in their overall energy and maintenance costs since participating.

What You Can Do to Reduce Light Pollution

Lights Out strategies across North America include several steps or pledges that companies and individuals can adopt to reduce nighttime window collisions. If you’re wondering about how you can reduce light pollution at home or at the office, here are four easy ways to get started no matter where you are:

  1. Shut off your interior lights when not in use
  2. Shut off all exterior lighting at night
  3. Invest in automatic or motion censored lights
  4. Carefully assess the amount and type of light you need to prevent accidental over-lighting

However, if you want 24/7 protection against bird collisions, we recommend combining FLAP Canada’s lights out techniques with Feather Friendly® DIY bird deterrent window markers. Discover the ultimate defense against harmful reflections and light pollution by contacting Feather Friendly® today!

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