‘Lights Out’ alert issued to protect migratory birds over Puget Sound

The Colorado State University Aeroecology Lab, which studies bird, bat and insect migration, has issued a medium and high ‘”Lights Out” alert level for the Puget Sound area as thousands of birds migrate over the Puget Sound region.

On Monday, April 19, Aeroeco Lab projected more than 10,000 birds are projected to fly over Seattle and Tacoma, and on Tuesday, April 20, another 10,000 birds are expected over Seattle and Tacoma. A total of 2.5 million birds are projected to be flying over the entire state both days.

According to the Audubon Society, every year, billions of birds migrate north in the spring and south in the fall, the majority of them flying at night, navigating with the night sky. However, as they pass over big cities on their way, they can become disoriented by bright artificial lights and skyglow, often causing them to collide with buildings or windows.

While lights can throw birds off their migration paths, bird fatalities are more directly caused by the amount of energy the birds waste flying around and calling out in confusion. The exhaustion can then leave them vulnerable to other urban threats.

Here are ways to contribute to the Lights Out solution, the Audubon Society says:

  • Turn off exterior decorative lighting.
  • Extinguish pot and flood-lights.
  • Substitute strobe lighting wherever possible.
  • Reduce atrium lighting wherever possible.
  • Turn off interior lighting especially on higher stories.
  • Substitute task and area lighting for workers staying late or pull window coverings.
  • Down-shield exterior lighting to eliminate horizontal glare and all light directed upward.
  • Install automatic motion sensors and controls wherever possible.
  • When converting to new lighting assess quality and quantity of light needed, avoiding over-lighting with newer, brighter technology.
  1. Thank you for posting this! I wish they could reduce the lights in the parking lots near the Marsh tonight but I’m guessing they can’t do that for human safety reasons.

  2. In addition to the impacts on wildlife, excess light affects human health. Outdoor lights that produce glare are arguably worse than no lights at all. One place the city could improve its lighting is at the wastewater treatment plant. Those 60s-era glass globes allow light to escape in all directions. It would be a simple fix to switch to a shielded bulb.

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