Reduce Nonessential Lights During Peak Bird Migration

How can you help migrating birds? It’s as simple as turning down your lights!

During peak spring bird migration during the months of April and May, millions of birds will fly through Connecticut at night on their journeys to spring and summer nesting grounds. Coastal towns like Westport are situated along the Atlantic Flyway, a very busy flight path for many of those birds. Our shorelines and green spaces will soon be important stops for birds needing to rest and refuel. 

The majority of migrating birds have evolved to travel at night, a task that has become much harder in the last 100 years. Normally, the nighttime skies are safer from predators, air flows are less turbulent, and the light of the moon and skies offer cues for navigation. Unfortunately, light pollution from our densely populated coastal towns has disrupted this ancient system. Artificial light from homes, buildings, and streetlights can disorient migrating birds. They can become lost and exhausted from trying to find their way, leading them to land in unsafe areas or fly closer to buildings and predators.

So what can you do to help? The organization Lights Out Connecticut calls on residents, businesses, schools, and others to reduce nonessential lights during the peak periods of bird migration. From April 1st to May 31st, between the hours of 11pm to 6am, specific actions recommended by Lights Out Connecticut include:

  • Turn off spot lights and/ord decorative lighting
  • Put outdoor lighting on timers and/or motion sensors, where possible
  • Down-shield exterior safety lighting or limit to ground level
  • Turn off or dim interior lights, especially on upper floors
  • Reduce lobby and atrium lighting, where possible
  • Substitute task and area lighting or draw blinds/shades after 11pm

Simply reducing unnecessary artificial lighting for a short window of time will allow our feathered friends to navigate by moonlight and starlight, helping them to complete their arduous springtime journeys.