Every year, billions of birds migrate north in the spring and south in the fall, the majority of them flying at night under the cover of darkness, navigating with the night sky. Artificial lights in cities can interrupt a bird’s natural navigational system leading to disorientation causing building and window collisions. Ultimately, most collisions result in death even though the bird may initially fly away from the collision.
In 2015, the City of Raleigh was the first in North Carolina to announce all City buildings would implement a Lights Out policy in keeping with policies on energy conservation and promoting dark skies. Wake Audubon is working with the City to renew our commitment to Lights Out Raleigh and to expand our reach to privately owned buildings and homeowners.
Advances in technology, websites, on-line databases, and reporting mechanisms provide valuable resources to help mitigate bird collisions with buildings. The following websites can help everyone become a Light Out Raleigh supporter:
Recent work in aeroecology using weather radar to detect birds in flight has provided the tools to forecast seasonal bird migration across the United States. Turning outside lights off when a heavy migration night is forecast can help mitigate fatal bird collisions. In North Carolina, we see the heaviest bird migration in these seasons:
Fall: September 10 – November 30
Spring: March 15 – May 30.
eBird provides birders an on-line checklist to record bird sightings at specific locations around the world. The checklists are archived and available for data-driven approaches to science, conservation and education. eBird checklists were used in the development of BirdCast migration forecasts and are used to verify accuracy.
The mapper provides a mechanism for reporting and viewing the locations of bird collisions with buildings across the globe. This app was recently developed by FLAP Canada (Fatal Lights Awareness Program). Join the Wake Audubon Team in the list of mapper groups to report your findings.
To get involved and join Wake Audubon’s Lights Out team, contact our volunteer coordinator.