Lights Out Texas! Dark Skies for Bird Safety

Spring bird migration is in its peak over Texas, filling Houston with a plethora of colorful, melodious visitors. Turning out nonessential lights from April 19 – May 7 is one of the most impactful local actions you can make to save the lives of birds on their journey. As an extension of the city-wide Lights Out for Birds program, Houston Audubon has partnered with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to launch Lights Out Texas – a science-based campaign with the goal of protecting migratory birds from the deadly hazards of artificial light. Here are the facts:

Houston is a crucial, yet dangerous flyway for migratory birds.
1 of every 3 birds migrating through the U.S. in spring passes through Texas. Houston ranks second among U.S. cities in exposing migrating birds to the hazards created by light pollution, trailing only Chicago. Most migratory birds fly at night, and the bright lights of commercial and residential buildings attract and disorient them – causing collisions or exhausting them and leaving the birds vulnerable to threats on the ground.

As many as 1 billion birds die from building collisions every year.
 \”We have a real opportunity to make an impact here—to help to protect one of the planet’s greatest mass animal movements, just by turning off unnecessary lights,\” said the Cornell Lab’s Julia Wang who is heading up the Lights Out Texas study. \”This means turning off or reducing lighting during a window of time when at least 50% of the overall spring migration traffic is moving through the Houston, Dallas, and Fort Worth areas.\”

BirdCast migration forecasts can predict nights of intense migration up to three days in advance.
This window of “peak migration” was chosen after scientists analyzed migration frequency and intensity using more than 20 years of data from the U.S. weather surveillance radar network. “The migration forecast maps on BirdCast back up our own Action Alerts with science,\” said Houston Audubon conservation director Richard Gibbons. \”These visuals really help people connect the risks to birds with conservation action they can take.”

Turn off nonessential lights at home TONIGHT to join Lights Out Texas and make a difference!
Lights Out Texas organizers are calling on people in the Houston, Dallas, and Forth Worth areas to reduce or eliminate lighting in or around tall buildings, businesses, and private residences between 7:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. during the April 19 through May 7. See the attached fact sheet for more information!


By Mary McKean, Cornell Lab of Ornithology Extern, MPA Candidate 2020

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