‘Lights Out’ saves migratory birds

MIAMI VALLEY — Every spring and fall, millions of birds migrate through Ohio on their way to or from their breeding grounds. Many birds migrate at night, and lights on tall buildings or aimed at the sky can disorient them and draw them into the buildings. This causes many birds to strike windows or circle buildings until they fall from exhaustion.

Building collisions are a leading cause of bird fatalities during migration in North America, and it is estimated that over 500 million birds die each year from building collisions in the United States alone. The Ohio Bird Conservation Initiative has partnered with a number of organizations around the Dayton area to reduce bird collisions with buildings through the Lights Out Miami Valley campaign.

Starting in mid-March, building owners, managers, and residents are encouraged to reduce exterior nighttime lighting during peak bird migration periods. Similar programs have been successful in a number of cities across the U.S., including Chicago, New York, Indianapolis and Minneapolis. The Lights Out Chicago program reports an 80 percent reduction in building collisions following a reduction in nighttime light emissions.

In recent years, volunteers have been collecting data on bird collisions in Columbus and Dayton, and have found hundreds of birds of various species, including Brown Creeper, Indigo Bunting, Bay-breasted Warbler, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and Baltimore Oriole.

In addition to the potential to significantly reduce bird collision deaths, Lights Out Miami Valley will assist building owners and managers to decrease their energy costs. For example, Lights Out Wilmington estimated savings of $6,000 per year for a 20-story building participating in the Lights Out Program.

For more information on Lights Out Miami Valley and the Ohio Lights Out Campaign, including how to volunteer or enroll your building in the program, please visit http://ohiolightsout.org/.