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.

LOB oriole
Our state bird, the Baltimore Oriole, was found by volunteers of Lights Out Baltimore. This bird was returning to Maryland from southern wintering grounds when he collided with a building in the city. We can take steps to help migratory birds make it safely through our cities and towns.

To help reduce concerns about bird mortality related to light pollution;

  • 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

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.

collision grouping 11
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.”

“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.”   see article here