Forsyth County Parks & RECREATION, ATLANTA AUDUBON INSTALL COLLIDESCAPE FILM TO PREVENT BIRD COLLISIONS AT SAWNEE MOUNTAIN PRESERVE
by Dottie Head, Director of Membership & Communications
Visitors to Sawnee Mountain Preserve will notice some new window treatments on the Visitor’s Center windows, including images of Georgia birds and wildlife and tiny dots adorning the glass. The purpose of the treatments is to prevent birds from flying into the windows, an all too common problem. The project is thanks to a partnership between Forsyth County Parks & Recreation Department and Atlanta Audubon, with a grant from the Disney Conservation Fund.
The treatments are a special CollidEscape film that reduces the transparency of the glass and breaks up reflection, preventing bird-window strikes. Each spring and fall, millions of birds migrate between wintering grounds in Central and South America, the southern U.S., or the Caribbean to breeding grounds in North America. Using the sun, stars and earth’s magnetism as a guide, birds migrate primarily at night to avoid predators and take advantage of the cooler temperatures. Sadly, many never arrive at their destination due to a man-made problem —building collisions. Blinded by night-time lights or confused by day-time reflections of trees and grass in shiny windows, many birds become disoriented and fly into the buildings, ending their journeys and their lives prematurely. A recent study by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology ranked Atlanta number four during fall migration and number nine during spring migration for the potential for bird-building collisions due high numbers of birds being exposed to nocturnal lighting.
“Since 2015, Atlanta Audubon has been studying bird-building collisions in the metro area through our Project Safe Flight Atlanta Program,” says Adam Betuel, director of conservation for Atlanta Audubon. “Since the program began, we have collected more than 1,300 birds of over 100 different species that have perished due to building collisions.”
The CollideEscape film is applied to a building’s windows and breaks up the reflection, allowing birds to avoid a collision, saving them. Nearly 2,000 square feet of CollidEscape material will be used to cover the windows on the Visitor’s Center.
“We have been working with a number of parks and nature centers, like Sawnee Mountain Preserve to treat problematic buildings to protect birds,” says Betuel. “We also hope to educate the people who pass through these buildings about the problem of bird-building collisions and show them that there are many easy solutions to this problem.”
In 2018, the Atlanta Audubon Society was awarded a $50,000 grant from the Disney Conservation Fund (DCF) as part of the Fund’s focus on reversing the decline of threatened wildlife around the world. The conservation grant recognizes Atlanta Audubon’s efforts to reduce bird-building collisions through Project Safe Flight Atlanta, a program to monitor birds and collects data on deaths by collisions, and its companion program, Lights Out Atlanta, to encourage residential and commercial buildings to reduce nighttime lighting to prevent bird deaths.
Atlanta Audubon is working with Forsyth County Parks & Recreation to install CollidEscape on the Sawnee Mountain Preserve Visitor’s Center with funding received from the DCF. Sawnee Mountain Preserve was chosen as a demonstration building 1) because they were experiencing bird collisions and 2) the park has high visitation presenting a unique opportunity to educate the public on steps they can take to reduce bird-window collisions at home.
"This effort showcases bird conservation practices. Our visitors can see CollideEscape in practice and see how they can help birds in their homes as well,” said Joseph Daugherty, natural resources management supervisor for Forsyth County Parks & Recreation Department.
About Atlanta Audubon: Atlanta Audubon is building places where birds and people thrive. We create bird-friendly communities through conservation, education, and advocacy.
About Forsyth County Parks: The mission of Forsyth County Parks and Recreation Department is to enhance the quality of life for all citizens of Forsyth County by providing passive and active recreational, educational and cultural programming services and to provide parks and recreational facilities that are safe, accessible and aesthetically pleasing to the entire community.
by Georgann Schmalz, Birding Adventures, Inc.
"I found a baby bird on the ground and want to know what to do with it."
"What can I feed a baby bird that is sitting on a branch near its nest?"
"The mother bird kicked her baby out. What do I feed it?"
Springtime arrives, and the inevitable happens. The baby bird syndrome besieges nearly every nature center, veterinarian, and ornithologist in town. Atlanta Audubon receives many calls as well. Who can resist the hungry cry of a "lost" baby American Robin or Northern Mockingbird when it leaves its nest and is barely able to fly? Well-meaning people scoop up and protect seemingly helpless fledglings from streets, yards, shrubbery, and sidewalks. It's difficult to watch these appealing fledglings flutter helplessly, appearing alone in a threatening world of cats, dogs and cars, and not run after them to place them in a protective box. Once in hand, the real dilemma begins—the inevitable question, "What do I do with it?"
A resounding "Put it back" is the best reply. A young bird has a much better chance of surviving if left alone. Very few fledglings are evicted from their nest or abandoned by their parents. So, unless it is injured or a cat or car is ready to pounce, leave it alone.
Only about 60% of songbird nestlings survive to leave the nest. Some die as embryos, never to hatch, some are frail from birth, and some fail to get enough food, warmth, and protection after hatching.
Those that have successfully survived their nestling period are ready to make the transition to the outer world. They have been stretching and strengthening their wings and legs for days. Clinging tightly to the nest's rim, they practice flapping wings to prepare them for flight. They may even hover a few inches above the nest, only to return quickly to its siblings. The actual act of leaving the nest is often quite fast. One moment the nest is filled with small, squirming bodies, and the next moment it is empty. One by one, the imminent fledglings teeter on the edge of the nest, test their wings one more time, and jump. Most songbird fledglings, upon leaving the nest for the first time, will end their first flight on branches or twigs of nearby shrubs or trees. They will not return to their nest, so placing them back in it is useless, as they will keep bouncing out again and again.
Once out of the nest, the fledglings maintain a close bond with their parents. They are rarely left alone for very long; each parent is within a short distance, alert to any dangers. The ability to sit motionless contributes to the success of a fledgling's first few days away from the nest. It is during this short time that baby birds are picked up and "saved" by tender-hearted people. This is tantamount to kidnapping and leaves very distraught parent birds wondering where their youngsters vanished to.
Young birds need only a little instruction in learning what to eat. At first, they may peck indiscriminately at flowers, sticks, or inedible objects. The foraging of young songbirds involves learning how to peck at the food, what to peck at, and what to avoid. It is believed that a young bird has an innate ability to obtain food in its species' correct manner and needs only to be fed that food or be led to an appropriate habitat. For example, Purple Martins and swallows have an innate predisposition to catch flying insects. They perfect this foraging behavior by associating with their parents or other swallows, being fed insects, and being led to open places best suited to soaring, diving, and grabbing insects in the air. One will often see a family of Barn Swallows perching on a telephone wire while the parents bring food to them. Occasionally, a juvenile flies out, meets an incoming parent, grabs a mouthful of food, and returns to the wire. This behavior undoubtedly helps the young swallows to learn the flight movements required of them.
(In a few cases, after watching for a while and you are totally convinced that the parents are not coming around, carefully pick the fledgling up, put it in a warm quiet place, and contact a local rehab center such as AWARE Wildlife Center. Atlanta Audubon has a list of additional wildlife rehabilitation resources on our website.
As difficult as it may be, rescuing baby birds from imagined dangers is usually unnecessary. Those tiny bodies really are supposed to be out of the nest, hiding, finding food, and hopping around, appearing totally helpless. It is nature's way of making sure that only the best hiders, finders, and hoppers survive.
Additional Questions? Email Georgann.
by Sandra Kruger, Executive Director of the Olmstead Linear Park Alliance
The old-growth forest at Deepdene in DeKalb County is full of mystery and wonder. With more than 70 bird species, a wide diversity of native trees and plants, and a plethora of wildlife, Deepdene offers visitors an exciting learning environment and a place to relax and unwind. While some visitors prefer to run the trails, others prefer the calm and tranquil welcome of birds singing and cool breezes through the trees. As one enters the forest, the mind begins to calm, and the stresses of everyday life begin to melt away.
Deepdene is a 22-acre forest that was added to the Old Growth Forest Network two years ago. While there are plenty of tall oaks and huge tulip poplars, there are also beautiful understory trees that thrive in the preserve. Unfortunately, there are also a great deal of invasive plants. Through partnerships with the Atlanta Audubon Society and Walter Bland of Rock Spring Restorations, we have been able to clear out these invasive plants and replace them with native ones. The goal was to create a bird-friendly and thriving wildlife sanctuary.
Each month, hard-working volunteers come out to help, and amazing results are our reward. Visitors to Deepdene witnessed May Apple (Podophyllum peltatum), Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), Eastern Wild Ginger blooming underground (Hexastylis arifolia), Columbine (Aquilegia), and Scarlet Quince (Chaenomeles japonica). A rare type of mottled ginger (Hexastylis shuttleworthii) and Crane Fly Orchid (Tipularia discolor) have also been discovered.
Thanks to all this hard work, Deepdene forest is thriving. On Saturday, June 15, Atlanta Audubon presented Deepdene with its official Wildlife Sanctuary Certification. We appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with Atlanta Audubon on this project. It is exciting to see what can flourish when given the right environment.
Be sure to plan a trip to Deepdene to witness the beautiful native wildflowers. You too can discover mystery and wonder of this beautiful, historic forest.
By Adam Betuel, Director of Conservation
Though the spring migration period has ended, there are still many exciting bird watching opportunities. Even though bird diversity in Atlanta takes a significant dip after the migrants continue north, June is the perfect time to really learn about local birds and to dive into the interesting world of breeding behavior. This month, many of our year-round residents will have fledglings around while returning migrants are just beginning breeding activity. This time of years overflows with speckled eggs, chirping babies, nests of all shapes and sizes, and an auditory flood that will make the most nature-centric of us feel alive.
Many of our members have invested in nest boxes or martin gourds and for years have enjoyed the synchrony of the early summer and the new life that comes with it. Others have periodically observed a robin with a wet piece of grass heading towards a nest or maybe even had a pair of Carolina Wrens use an old bike helmet or watering can to raise a brood. While all of these avian encounters are exciting and illustrate why we feel so connected to nature through birds, there are ways we can add even more to these observations. Like eBird and the Christmas Bird Count, there are community science programs that focus on breeding behavior that educate the bird lover and inform the conservationist.
NestWatch is a Cornell Lab of Ornithology program that is accessible to bird enthusiasts of all levels. Via their website or app, users can learn how to safely monitor a pair of birds during the entirety of the nesting process while also providing data to researchers. NestWatch also provides you with information on how to find a nest that is not in a box, species specific details, how to attract a species to your space, and all the intricacies of the chick rearing process. Once you are familiar with the data entry process, this program will allow you to keep records of your nest box or tree cavity year after year and see how the birds in your yard are have fared over time. It truly is a fun and easy way to connect with the birds of your patch while gaining a better understanding of bird behavior.
Requiring a bit more skill and limited in the number of participants, the Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) is a jewel in the community science arena. Like the Christmas Bird Count, the BBS is a long-term dataset dating back to 1966. Famed ornithologist Chandler Robbins started the BBS in hopes of monitoring breeding populations of birds over large geographic areas, specifically in the post-pesticide era. Though the causes of bird declines today may be different or more diverse, the valuable data collected during the BBS can be used by researchers and managers to better understand population changes and determine appropriate responses.
So how does one conduct a BBS? BBS surveys take place during the peak of the breeding season, from late May through June in Georgia. Each survey is done along a predetermined route of 24.5 miles that was randomly chosen years ago to provide a sampling of the habitat of that region. The observer conducting the count stops along their route every half mile, totaling 50 stops, and completes a three-minute stationary point count. All birds seen or heard are recorded as is the number of vehicles that pass by during the survey window. BBS routes start about 30 minutes before sunrise and take roughly five hours to complete. In Georgia, there are over 90 BBS survey routes, and across the U.S.there are more than 4,100 total routes.
During the month of June, I become immersed in breeding biology and both of these community science programs. Before entering the office, I often check the bluebird boxes across the Blue Heron Nature Preserve or search for cup nests along the creek. A pair of Red-tailed Hawks have nested in the same clump of trees near the Emma Wetlands since I first moved to Atlanta, and it always give me warmth and excitement to see them try again. I input all of this data into NestWatch and enjoy comparing the current year to previous years. I am lucky enough to have two BBS routes, and they are one of my favorite things to do each year. One of my routes begins just north of Metter and allows me to enjoy the birds and dusty roads of the Coastal Plain habitat. Mississippi Kites, Common Ground-Doves, Loggerhead Shrikes, and the occasional Prothonotary Warbler bring me joy on that typically warm morning each year. A couple of weeks after completing this route, I sample the bird communities of Walker and Dade County in the extreme northwest corner of our state. Ridges and valleys as well as quaint family farms dot this route, as do the Ovenbirds, Scarlet Tanagers, Worm-eating Warblers, and Indigo Buntings. These two surveys remind me each year that we have such an amazing diversity in habitats and avian life here in Georgia.
So while the last Cape May and Canada Warblers are making their way north, I encourage you all to not just dream of the fall to come but rather devote yourself to learning more about those nesting chickadees and towhees. Try to find a nest or some newly fledged babies. This isn’t easy but it is a worthy challenge, and you will learn much along the way. When the House Wrens stake claim to your nest box, give them some study and report your findings. Monitor them safely and consciously. Be active with community science, visit parts of the city or state that maybe you haven’t in the past, and enjoy the excitement and energy that flows from this summer season.
by Dottie Head, Director of Membership & Communications
Save these dates in September 2019 when Atlanta Audubon will once again celebrate the inextricable connection between birds and native plants during the second annual Georgia Grows Native for Birds Month. We’ve got a great lineup in the works, including:
Tickets for these events will go on sale in mid-July. For more information, please visit our website.
By Georgia LaMar, Atlanta Audubon Volunteer Certifier
We’d like to welcome Mary and Robert Rockwood, of McDonough, to the Atlanta Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary Program. Georgia LaMar, Atlanta Audubon volunteer, recently made a certification visit to their home and submitted this account. “Not only does Mary rescue native plants, but also German Shepherds and hearts as a cardiovascular technologist,” says Georgia.
A bit about Mary: I grew up in upstate New York. My interest in gardening and the outdoors stems from the years seeing my mother tending to her gardens, or maybe it was from my grandfather with his big vegetable and flower gardens; as well as time spent outdoors camping, playing in the woods, and scouts. Pair that with Robert, who loved the outdoors, hunting and camping with his family, and as my Eagle Scout found our unique setting here in Henry County and cut my trails long before I knew what was here.
When did you decide to make your home an Audubon sanctuary? Following one of Atlanta Audubon’s annual Wildlife Sanctuary Tours.
How would you describe your style? Natural
What is the one plant you can’t do without? Piedmont azalea (Rhododendron canescens). I first saw these and other native azaleas on the property of Verma Farlow in East Point Georgia back in the 1990’s, and I fell in love with them. Verma would sell plants from her yard in order to help pay for the cost of her husband’s heart medication. Searching for them led me to Nearly Native Nursery in Fayetteville, and from there Jim encouraged me to look into Georgia Native Plant Society and Garden Delights /Lazy K Nursery in Pine Mountain. These interactions lead me to being a supporter of native plants.
Do you have a favorite trick? No. I’m always learning via symposiums, talks, books, and web searches. My favorite on the internet is Ellen Honeycutt’s Blog, Using Georgia Native Plants, and my favorite book is The Natural Communities of Georgia. I wish I had had these resources before I began working in my yard!
Any words of wisdom? Be patient. Stick to plants that are native to your habitat, and expect the change that Mother Nature unexpectedly provides!
To learn more about Atlanta Audubon's Wildlife Sanctuary Program, please visit our Wildlife Sanctuary page.
By Anne McCallum, member of the Early Birds Book Club
Can a history of American Birding really be brief? Weidensaul covers so much in this book—early explorer/naturalists, later explorer/soldier/naturalist/scientists, classic bird books, bird naming, the great slaughter, women to the rescue!, the history of field guides, the history of counting/listing mania, modern conservation movements. Quite a few of those of us in the Early Birds book club didn’t get very far in this book or felt overwhelmed by all the names and facts that kept tumbling out of it.
Still there were interesting tidbits to be garnered: For example, the supposed meeting between book peddling Alexander Wilson and failing shopkeeper John James Audubon. The sad ending of Meriweather Lewis (suicide or murder in a frontier inn?) The difference between names of eastern birds—which evolved over time—and western birds—often named shortly after being discovered to honor an explorer or scientist. The link between young George Bird Grinnell and his teacher, none other than Audubon’s long-suffering teacher-wife Lucy! The fact that David Allen Sibley grew up “in the kind of household where he might find a California Condor in the garage.” (His father was an ornithologist.) One of my personal favorites was the account of naturalist Althea Sherman who is buried next to the highway I take to visit my hometown in northeast Iowa. The historical marker by that country cemetery describes her research on Chimney Swifts (c. 1900) using her “Swift Tower” which is reconstructed nearby, but the marker does not mention her vendetta against House Wrens!
The Early Birds also felt some frustration with encountering some of the same cast of characters in multiple chapters. When a reader thought that she had finished with Bartram as explorer, he shows up again in the section on bird names. And Audubon, probably unavoidably, is in multiple chapters.
So—we decided that the book was a superb reference to all things birdy in American history but that it wasn’t our favorite casual “read.”
The Early Birds is a drop-in book club that meets before the Atlanta Audubon Monthly Meeting at Manuel's Tavern, from 2:00 to 3:30 PM. There is no commitment other than to enjoy reading and sharing books about birds and birding. To learn more, visit the Early Birds web page.
By Jason Ward, Fund II Apprentice, National Audubon Society
Spring migration is upon us, and it is like Christmastime for birders. Countless neotropical jewels are making their way over our city each night as they fly north to their breeding grounds. As the sun rises, warblers, vireos, tanagers, and more will stop and feed, mainly on insects, as they refuel for the next leg of their journey. If you are in the right place at the right time, you’ll be granted front row seats to this spectacle. Finding the “right place” can take some pre-planning. It’s an inexact science, but with the right tips, you’ll find yourself in migratory heaven. I’m going to share some of my personal favorite Fulton County birding destinations with you in this article.
I’ll start with Piedmont Park, I mean, come on, did you expect me to start elsewhere? Sure, I may be biased, since I lead monthly bird walks there, but Piedmont Park is really an amazing place for birds. Despite being in midtown Atlanta, almost 200 species have been recorded there. Every eastern warbler you can imagine can be found within the park’s 180 acres. There are also a variety of habitat in the park, from Six Springs wetlands, to Lake Clara Meer, and there’s even a large flat meadow that attracts Killdeer
and Wilson’s Snipe after a rain shower. It also scores points for its easy-to-navigate terrain and parking accommodations.
PROS: Smooth terrain, kid-friendly, large parking deck.
CONS: Noisy, noisy, and noisy.
MOST NOTABLE MIGRANT: Blue-winged / Golden-winged Warbler hybrid (spring 2014)
East Palisades Unit of CRNRA
Staying inside the perimeter, we have the East Palisades Unit of the Chattahoochee River Nature Recreation Area. Terrain here can be a bit trickier, as you begin at a pretty high elevation and descend down a trail that’s roughly three-quarters of a mile long on the way down to the river. Birders here are usually greeted by singing vireos the moment they step out of their cars. Upon hiking down the trail, some of the more numerous migrants can be Scarlet and Summer Tanagers. It is the closest thing to a Kennesaw Mountain-like experience in Fulton County, since many of the birds here are near eye level, due to the elevation of the trail.
PROS: Amazing views, quiet trails.
CONS: The hike back up to the trailhead can be exhausting.
MOST NOTABLE MIGRANT: Swainson’s Warbler (spring 2018)
Rogers Bridge Trail
Moving to the northern end of Fulton County, we have one of my personal favorites—Rogers Bridge Trail in Johns Creek. I discovered this area thanks to fellow birder Nathan Farnau, after seeing his many reports on eBird of some really cool species. This trail has a small parking lot, capable of fitting maybe five vehicles, which can be a gift and a curse. The lack of parking spots guarantees that you’ll have a nice, peaceful hike as you look and listenfor birds—just as long as you can get one. There is a 1.8-mile long, paved trail that eventually leads to an old bridge near the Chattahoochee River. Along that trail, sparrows can be seen darting back and forth, while warblers sing from the treetops, and there is hardly a moment where there aren’t multiple birds of prey in the sky. There’s a point along the trail where you have the option of breaking off of the paved trail and climbing a short hill leading to a grassy trail that encircles a beautiful retention pond. Yellow-breasted Chats may be found here all spring and summer, singing their weird mimicked songs. American Woodcock are also frequently heard and seen here early in the morning, and during the late afternoon/early evening peenting and doing their courtship flights in the fields. This park is Fulton’s best-kept secret in terms of bird diversity. You truly never know what will show up here.
PROS: Super quiet hikes, large variety of birds.
CONS: Small parking lot, the occasional dog off leash flushing
Killdeer through the field.
MOST NOTABLE MIGRANT: Pectoral Sandpiper (spring 2017)
Whether you choose to visit one of these hotspots or go birding in your neighborhood park, this is the most wonderful time of the year. I wish the best of luck to you all, and I hope to see you out birding!
For a complete listing of Atlanta Audubon Field trips, please visit our field trips page.
by Dottie Head, Director of Membership and Communications
On Thursday, April 11, the Atlanta Audubon Society officially recognized the Jean and Elwood Wright Environmental Education Center in Cobb County as an Atlanta Audubon Certified Wildlife Sanctuary. A collaborative effort between Atlanta Audubon and the Cobb County Master Gardeners, the Wright Center is the first Cobb County Park to be added to the network of more than 500 Atlanta Audubon-certified Wildlife Sanctuaries across the metro area and north Georgia.
The Atlanta Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary Program encourages both private and public properties to enhance their land for birds and other wildlife by installing native plants and providing food, water, and shelter for birds and other wildlife.
“Atlanta Audubon is thrilled to partner with the Cobb County Master Gardeners to add the Wright Environmental Education Center to our network or certified sanctuaries, and we’re particularly thrilled to add our first public park in Cobb County,” says Melinda Langston, Atlanta Audubon board member and Wildlife Sanctuary Program Coordinator. “The welfare of birds and other wildlife is directly linked to the quality of food and shelter available to them, and the Cobb County Master Gardeners have done a wonderful job of adding and highlighting a variety of plant species native to Georgia’s Piedmont region to this acreage. With the onsite education center and a nice trail system, the Wright Center is a wonderful resource for the community.”
Located at 2661 Johnson Ferry Road, in Marietta, the Jean and Elwood Wright Environmental Education Center belonged to the Wright family from the mid-1940s until 2003 when it became a Cobb County Park. The Wright’s were committed to adding native trees and plants to what was then a nearly barren landscape, and the property is now boasts a wealth of large trees and native, understory plants. The Cobb County Master Gardeners have spent countless hours clearing invasive plant species and adding additional native plants to the landscape. In addition, Cobb County has renovated the house on the property with classrooms, restrooms, and a small kitchen for use by school, scout, and other groups. The trail system meanders through the entire property passing through towering oaks, tulip poplars, and other mature trees. Many plants native to Georgia thrive in the park, some listed as unusual by the state. A unique feature of the center is a “plant jail” created by the Master Gardeners. The plant jail is a selection of non-native, invasive plants that have been removed from the property and replaced with native Georgia species.
“The Master Gardeners believe that Jean Wright, the original owner of this property, would be delighted with the Atlanta Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary designation,” says Judy Beard, one of the Cobb County Master Gardeners who spearheaded the effort to certify this property. “This certification represents her deep love for birds and wildlife of all types and her lifelong desire to make her home into a natural habitat for wildlife.”
For more information on certifying a property as an Atlanta Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary, visit https://www.atlantaaudubon.org/wildlife-sanctuary-certification.html.
Atlanta Audubon is building places where birds and people thrive. We create bird-friendly communities through conservation, education, and advocacy.
Atlanta ranks high in the threats to birds from window collision related deaths, according to a recently released study by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. During fall migration, Atlanta ranks number four. In the spring, Atlanta ranks number nine for collision-related deaths. Atlanta Audubon is studying bird-building collisions and taking steps to reduce bird fatalities through its Project Safe Flight Atlanta and Lights Out Atlanta programs.
The Cornell study 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 crashing into buildings. The research was published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. It combines satellite data showing light pollution levels with weather radar measuring bird migration density.
Chicago, Houston, and Dallas ranked one through three during both fall and spring migration. Because many birds alter their migration routes between spring and fall, rankings of the most-dangerous cities change slightly with the season, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. During spring migration billions of birds pass through the central U.S, therefore cities in the middle of the country comprise the most-dangerous list for that season. Fall bird migration tends to be more intense along the heavily light-polluted Atlantic seaboard, which is why four eastern cities make the list in autumn.
Each year, an estimated 365 million to 1 billion birds die in the U.S. after colliding with buildings. In Atlanta, Project Safe Flight Atlanta volunteers patrol selected routes during peak bird migration periods collecting birds that have died or been injured after colliding with buildings. Since the program began in 2015, volunteers have collected more than 1,200 birds of 100 different species.
In an effort to reduce the number of bird-building collisions, Atlanta Audubon launched the Lights Out Atlanta Program in spring 2017. A voluntary program, Lights Out Atlanta encourages building owners and residential homeowners to turn off or reduce lighting from midnight to dawn during 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 pledge is available on the Atlanta Audubon website at www.atlantaaudubon.org/loa. Since Lights Out Atlanta launched in spring 2017, nearly 300 homeowners and 16 commercial properties have pledged to turn the lights out to help birds.
“We were saddened, but not terribly surprised when we received a call from Cornell letting us know about this study and sharing that Atlanta ranks high in the number of bird-building collisions,” says Adam Betuel, Director of Conservation for Atlanta Audubon. “The Atlantic flyway is a major migration path for many birds, and millions of birds pass through Atlanta each spring and fall on their way to and from wintering grounds in South and Central America. We hope to use this data to help us enact meaningful programs, like our Lights Out Atlanta Program, to reduce the number of collisions and educate the public about ways they can help. Cornell estimates that a quarter-million birds die from collisions with houses and residences each year, so homeowners in the metro area can play and important role through simple steps, like turning out the nighttime lights during spring and fall migration.”
For more information on Project Safe Flight Atlanta and Lights Out Atlanta, please visit www.atlantaaudubon.org/project-safe-flight-atlanta or www.atlantaaudubon.org/loa.
Atlanta Audubon Society is building places where birds and people thrive. We create birds -friendly communities through conservation, education, and advocacy.