Audubon is a proud sponsor of this year’s World Migratory Bird Day on Saturday, May 14. With the theme “Dim the Lights to Save Birds at Night”, this year’s focus is on light pollution and its impact on migratory birds.
Artificial Light at Night and Birds
Every year, billions of birds migrate north in the spring and south in the fall, the majority of them flying at night, navigating with the night sky. However, as they pass over populated areas along their way, they can become disoriented by bright artificial lights and sky glow, resulting in detours, energy drain and collisions with buildings or windows. An estimated one billion birds are killed annually from direct collisions with illuminated buildings, towers, and other structures across the country. With 80% of the United States impacted by photo-polluted nights, light pollution of airspace and increased urbanization poses serious threats to birds migrating at night.
Increasing Our Understanding
Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships
Through the Migratory Bird Initiative, Audubon is partnering with organizations like the USGS Bird Banding Lab, Smithsonian, Georgetown University, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and Movebank to bring together the latest and best tracking data for birds that spend at least a portion of the year in North America to better understand and visualize when and where migratory birds will be and how to drive actions that protect them along their journey.
As we focus on full life cycle conservation, providing safe passage and ensuring quality habitat throughout the year, the work of Audubon Americas is critical to engaging community partners throughout the hemisphere.
A national collaboration among Audubon’s Bird-Friendly Communities network and the International Dark Sky Association (IDA) is helping to build and strengthen partnerships among local Audubon and IDA chapters, bringing together knowledge, tools, and resources to protect the night sky for both birds and people.
Local Action Across the Network
Lights Out Programs
Across the country, Audubon and partners are collaborating with community members, building owners and managers, corporations, and city leaders across the country in helping to prevent night-time collisions through voluntary Lights Out programs. To date, over 40 cities and several state and regional efforts are underway. While some groups focus on Lights Out engagement and collision monitoring to further our understanding of collisions, others advocate for legislation to ensure bird-friendly construction and lighting. As we couple advances in migration science and light pollution with the many Lights Out programs, public awareness, and engagement with decision makers at all levels, we can give birds a better chance of survival on their journeys between their breeding and wintering grounds.
How to Help
- Get involved with a local Lights Out effort or event
- Check your home for excess light and bird-safe windows
- Advocate for bird-friendly lighting and construction