Dallas Dims Its Lights to Help Bird Migration

Birds migrating
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An estimated one billion U.S. bird feather occurs annually from collisions with buildings and structures, and the U.S. bird populations are declining rapidly, with one out of every four birds lost since 1970. To help protect our feathered friends from light pollution, the Lone Star state has teamed up with former First Lady Laura Bush to encourage the “Lights Out Nights,” campaign through Oct. 10 to help ensure that the hundreds of millions of migratory birds traveling home can do so safely. 

“The spectacular downtown Dallas skyline has been noticeably darker on recent nights as part of the Lights Out efforts in our city,” Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said in a release. “Doing so will play a big part in helping to keep our wildlife safe and to conserve energy.”

To minimize the threat of light pollution, Johnson urged residents and businesses to turn out non-essential lights between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. during the critical migratory period. BirdCast, a consortium of interdisciplinary researchers, from Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Colorado State University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In Texas,

According to ornithologists at BirdCast, birds provide ecosystem services, act as benchmarks for environmental health, increase livability and connect people of all ages and abilities to the natural world. 

One of approximately every three birds migrating through the U.S. in spring and one of nearly every four birds migrating through the US in the fall, pass through Texas; therefore, approximately, two billion birds travel through the state annually, according to BirdCast.

Birds also support the Texas economy, reported the research center. In the Rio Grand Valley alone, Texas  A&M found that nature tourism, which is dominated by bird-watching, contributes $300 million to the economy and supports 4,407 full and part-time jobs annually,

"Window strikes are the leading cause of bird deaths every years. Most migrating birds travel at night when they pass bright cities, intense light can lure them into dangerous situations and they risk colliding with buildings,” said the former first lady  during the public service announcement. “Here in Texas, we love our birds and we want to ensure their flight through our state is harmless. So I am asking your help to darken the night sky by turning off your non-essential lights. You can keep birds safe on their journey home.”

To find out bird movements, Bird Cast features bird migration forecast maps on their site that shows predicted nocturnal migration three hours after local sunset which is updated every six hours.

To learn more about birds migrating in your area, visit https://birdcast.info.

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