Lights Out Atlanta is a new program of Atlanta Audubon Society designed to help reduce bird deaths caused by building collisions. Each year, an estimated 350 million to 1 billion birds die in the United States after colliding with buildings. The problem is particularly bad during spring and fall migration.
Lights Out Atlanta is a voluntary program encouraging building owners and residential homeowners to turn off or reduce lighting from midnight to dawn during the peak bird migration periods. Participants pledge to reduce non-essential lighting during peak migration periods of March 15 to May 31 (spring) and August 15 to November 15 (fall). The goal is to create a safe path through Atlanta for migrating birds and to make the City in the Trees a Bird Friendly Community.
This spring, Atlanta Audubon Society will partner with programs such as the Atlanta Better Buildings Challenge (ABBC), to launch Lights Out Atlanta to make Atlanta a more bird-friendly community.
Atlanta Audubon Society has been studying collision-related bird deaths through its Project Safe Flight Atlanta Program for the past two years. Project Safe Flight volunteers patrol selected routes during peak bird migration periods collecting birds that have died or been injured after colliding with buildings. Since the program launch in fall 2015, more than 500 birds of 70 different species have been collected. Click here to read more about Project Safe Flight Atlanta.
Most migrating birds pass through Georgia during the nighttime hours. Generally, the evening hours are calmer and safer for migrants. Predators are less active at night, skies are often less turbulent, temperatures are cooler, and landing at daybreak allows for optimal foraging conditions. For generations, populations of warbler, thrush, and vireo have taken advantage of the darkened environment on their epic twice-yearly journey. However, urbanization has wreaked havoc on these birds as the ever-present glow of artificial light turns the normally safe nighttime sky into a perilous pathway.
Bright lights confuse and disorient resident and migrating birds as they pass over brightly lit cities, like metro Atlanta. These birds may collide with structures or become trapped in beams of light where they circle until they either die of exhaustion or land in an unsafe location. Once on the ground, brightly lit building lobbies, reflective glass showing trees and shrubs, or even indoor plants near windows can lead to more collisions. This can all be made worse by weather patterns that force birds lower and in a more direct line with our buildings.
Lights Out Atlanta is a voluntary effort designed to make Atlanta as safe as possible for our resident and migratory birds. The goal is to make Atlanta's nighttime sky a safe travel corridor for migrating and resident birds. Modeled after similar successful programs in New York City, Chicago, Minneapolis, and Toronto, Lights Out Atlanta participants will pledge to take bird-friendly steps during Spring (March 15 to May 31) and Fall (August 15 - November 15) migration between the hours of 12:00 midnight and sunrise.
Building managers and homeowners will pledge to reduce lighting by:
Birds are not the only beneficiaries of Lights Out Atlanta. People can benefit too! The goal is not to completely darken the city, which could create safety concerns, but to reduce decorative and unnecessary night time lighting to create safe passage for birds.
A building or home reducing their lighting has a lot to gain. One building in Chicago was able to demonstrate an 80 percent decrease in collision-related mortality by simply turning off its lights. Beyond saving the lives of birds,
Lights Out Atlanta participants will:
Atlanta Audubon is excited to partner with the following organizations on Lights Out Atlanta to help make Atlanta a Bird Friendly Community.