Cities say ‘lights out’ to help migrating birds

The Tribute in Light, the anniversary beams of light that fill NYC’s skyline every September 11th in remembrance of those killed in the terrorist attack of 9/11, are a hazard to birds, as are brightly-lit landmarks and buildings in cities worldwide.

During their migration seasons, birds’ navigational systems, that work in accordance with the moon and stars, are misaligned by bright artificial lights. This “fatal light attraction” causes them to veer off-course towards the lights, and circle the lights until they exhaust themselves.

In NYC, volunteers from the New York City Audubon Society monitor the Tribute in Light with binoculars, and shut the lights down temporarily if more than 1,000 birds are circling the lights or if a bird dies. The birds then reorient themselves and fly on their regular route, reports Matt Hickman for MNN. A pause of 20-30 minutes is sufficient to save birds.

The Audubon Society has a Lights Out initiative in a number of cities for other bird-attracting light sources.

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