Why is the "Lights Out" Program Important?
Every year, billions of birds migrate north in the spring and south in the fall. The majority of the birds fly at night, navigating using the Moon, stars and night sky. As they pass over big cities, they can become disoriented by bright artificial lights and sky glow. An estimated 600 million birds in the U.S. die each year from collisions with buildings.
A recent study published by Cornell Lab of Ornithology ranked metropolitan areas where, due to a combination of light pollution and geography, birds are at the greatest risk of becoming attracted to and disoriented by lights and crash into buildings. Sadly, the St. Louis metro area ranks #5 on the list of most dangerous cities for migrating birds for spring migration and #6 most dangerous for fall migration.
Our "Lights Out Heartland" program will place us into good company. The Audubon Society reports some thirty other metro areas hosting their own lights program.
Guidelines for Bird-Safe Lighting for Businesses
- Use automatic lighting controls (timers and motion detectors).
- When possible, turn both interior and exterior lights off by 11pm, especially during spring and fall migration periods.
- Spring migration: May 1st through mid-May is when the peak migration period occurs for many bird species in Missouri.
- Fall migration: Fall migration period is more extended, with migration occurring from mid-August through October. We ask businesses to focus their light-control efforts during the month of September
- Use task lighting to create small light zones and minimize unnecessary indoor lighting.
- Utilize light dimmers in atriums and hallways to control indoor light levels.
- When possible, close interior blinds to protect migrating birds from indoor lighting that must remain on at night.
- Eliminate/reduce any direct upward exterior lighting. Ensure that all exterior light fixtures are shielded (downward light only).
- Utilize minimum wattage fixtures to achieve appropriate lighting levels.
- Avoid use of floodlighting, spotlights, or searchlights. When this cannot be avoided, turn off such lighting during spring and fall migrations.
- Blue and green exterior lighting impacts birds less than white or red lighting.