Collisions with buildings kill more birds than any other single human factor besides habitat loss and domestic cats. In urban areas, the problem gets worse during periods of migration. Most neo-tropical songbirds migrate at night to avoid turbulence in the air, and they navigate by the stars. Passing over cities, they are often attracted to artificial lights and frequently strike transparent or reflective windows. The blow can be fatal, or it can leave the birds injured and vulnerable to predators and street sweepers.
During migratory seasons, Lights Out DC volunteers walk a four-mile route in downtown Washington to inspect buildings and collect dead or injured migratory birds that have collided with glass. Injured birds are monitored and released (if recovered) or taken to City Wildlife’s rehabilitation center if their injuries are more severe. Dead birds are tagged and saved. The statistics are used to convince building owners and managers to adopt light abatement procedures for the sake of migrating birds.
Lights Out DC is patterned after highly successful lights-out programs in Chicago, Toronto, Boston, New York City, and Baltimore, to name a few. Our work has been featured in publications by the BBC, Washington Post, and Huffington Post.
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If you’d like to join Lights Out DC as a volunteer, please fill out a volunteer application