It’s Time to Turn your Lights Out, Texas!

✏️ By Anna Vallery, Houston Audubon Conservation Specialist, Bird-Friendly Communities Program Manager

While you’re still hanging out by the pool and enjoying summer BBQs, many migratory birds are wrapping up their breeding seasons and getting ready to fly south for the winter. Fall migration kicks into gear in mid-August and continues all the way into November, a much more extended migratory period than we see during spring migration. This means that soon our city will see millions and millions of birds migrating through and facing all the challenges that come with an urban landscape. 

There are ways you can help our avian visitors with these challenges! First, turn your lights out for birds! Houston Audubon’s Lights Out for Birds Program started in 2017 after a large collision event in Galveston. Thanks to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Colorado State University’s BirdCast bird migration forecast maps, Houston Audubon staff were able to track migration predictions for the region and issue alerts to the community when chances of high migration coincided with weather events. In 2020, we partnered with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Texan By Nature, and organizations across the state to expand our program into Lights Out Texas! This program encourages individuals, organizations, companies, building managers, and cities to turn their non-essential, exterior lights off throughout spring and fall migrations, with extra emphasis on these lights being out during peak migration. 

Fall Migration: August 15 through November 30

Fall Peak Migration: September 5 through October 29 

Most North American migratory birds fly at night, and lights on buildings can disorient birds on their paths, resulting in fatal collisions. As we all know, the Upper Texas Coast plays a key role on the Central Flyway, an important migratory path for birds. Birds that move along and across the Gulf of Mexico depend on safe passage through the Houston-Galveston area. Throughout migration, and particularly during weather events, turning lights out can make a big difference. 

What else can you do to support our fall migrants? Actions like keeping cats indoors, providing native plants, skipping insecticides, and supporting organizations like Houston Audubon can all help our migratory birds. For more information on how you can support birds at home, visit our Bird-Friendly Communities website.  

To receive alerts when migration is predicted to be high in your area, or to learn more about Lights Out Texas, visit https://birdcast.info/science-to-action/lights-out/lights-out-texas/.  

Thank you for turning your Lights Out for Birds! 

Turn your Lights Out for Birds this fall to protect migratory birds from fatal collisions!

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