are birds attracted to light

In 2022, World Migratory Bird Day was celebrated on May 14 in the spring, and October 8 in the fall. The theme for the entire year is about reducing the impacts of light pollution on migratory birds and the significant threats it poses. The Migratory Bird Program is encouraging everyone to participate in reducing the impacts of light pollution and join in the international effort to “Dim the Lights for Birds at Night!”

Artificial light is scattered across the landscape of the entire country, and birds are frequently attracted to lighting, especially during inclement weather events during migration. Unfortunately, lights can cause confusion, disorientation, and exhaustion – directly impacting their ability to migrate.

For example, birds disoriented by lights can circle structures for extended periods of time, leading to exhaustion or accelerated use of energy stores critical for migration.

In addition, birds attracted to lights on buildings and structures frequently crash into windows and collide into buildings, unfortunately ending in tragedy.

Eliminating or reducing unnecessary lighting can significantly reduce bird collisions, while simultaneously reducing energy demands and costs to building owners. Reducing nighttime lighting is especially important during peak bird migration periods, and periods of inclement weather.

We worked with our partners at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s BirdCast Program and the Colorado State University AeroEco Lab to help predict the most important timespan for spring bird migration and targeted our efforts from April 24-May 15, 2022. We do not have a targeted timeframe for fall migration as birds tend to migrate over a longer period of time and over a wider array of migration routes to their wintering grounds. The more nights you can turn off lights, the better!

Please use the map that Birdcast provided for the lower 48 states to help plan your activities for peak migration in your area. As we all know, Florida will have a different peak migration timeframe than Montana, so please use the map in your planning process! Of course, local weather events and other factors might impact the specific dates of peak bird migration, and you can take that into account during your decision-making process of when will work best for you to turn the lights off.

2. If you can’t turn off all lights, consider turning off exterior lights – the flood lights that face up into the sky, roof-top lights that illuminate the surrounding landscape, or change your motion sensors to only be active when people are present.

The International Dark Sky Association has more information and examples of the types of lighting structures you can use to reduce your light pollution.

Research has found that birds are particularly attracted to steady-burning red and white lights. Removing non-flashing/steady-burning lights can significantly reduce bird collisions with structures.

Every year nearly one billion birds collide with glass in the U.S., and most of those fatalities happen at homes and buildings shorter than four stories tall. Even glass walkways and bus stop shelters cause bird collisions. Fortunately, even small efforts can make a BIG difference for birds!

Birds don’t see glass as a barrier so they don’t avoid it. They collide with glass when they see natural reflections (clouds, sky, or trees) in the glass, when they see plants through windows, and when they are attracted to landscaping or interior lights. Many birds that seem fine following window collisions can later die from internal injuries.

You can make your building safer for birds. Some bird safety measures even reduce your energy costs and look nice. You can help recover bird populations by preventing window collisions at your home and other buildings. Your small actions are hugely important for our birds…start making your difference today!

For more information on reducing glass and lighting impacts and practical tips please visit Reducing Bird Collisions with Buildings and Building Glass.

During migration, birds can fly off course toward brightly lit urban areas. At a time of year when all their energy needs to go to flying sometimes thousands of miles, these hazards can mean the difference between life or death. Many cities — major sources of the nighttime light pollution — are directly in migratory flyways and present unique hazards to migrating birds. Fortunately, many communities are taking action to reduce their impacts. There are over two dozen “lights out” programs in cities around the country, and many are part of the Urban Bird Treaty Cities network.

What the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is doing to “Dim the Lights for Birds at Night!”

Our Northeast Regional Office in Hadley, Massachusetts, reprogrammed their automatic lights, so theyll be “lights out” from 8pm-5:30am. This simple action is protecting birds in the area and saving electricity! Theyre getting the word out and hoping other businesses and organizations will follow suit.

The National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, turned off their external lights and parking lights for World Migratory Bird Day. They also presented a virtual public lecture with Dr. Joelle Gehring on “Bird Collisions with Communication Towers: How We Can Reduce the Risks and Save Money.”

At the brand new Ankeny Hill Nature Center at Ankeny Hill National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, our staff worked with the construction company to have the lights turn off each night, at the building and in the parking lot, and made sure there is a manual option for staff to use as well. This decision was made to help birds migrate and keep light pollution down.

Birds may veer off course during migration and fly into brightly lit urban areas. These dangers can spell the difference between life and death during a season when all of their energy is required for flying, sometimes thousands of miles away. Numerous cities, which are significant contributors to the nighttime light pollution, are situated directly in migratory flyways, posing particular risks to avian migrants. Fortunately, many communities are taking action to reduce their impacts. More than twenty “lights out” initiatives exist in American cities, many of which are a part of the Urban Bird Treaty Cities network.

For instance, birds that are confused by lights may circle buildings for a long time, which could exhaust them or cause them to use their energy stores more quickly than they would otherwise during migration.

The country’s landscape is dotted with artificial light, and birds are often drawn to it, particularly during bad weather conditions when migrating. Sadly, lights can make animals confused, disoriented, and tired, which hinders their ability to migrate.

2. If you are unable to completely shut off the lights, think about turning off the exterior lights, such as the flood lights that face the sky and the roof-top lights that light up the surrounding area, or you could set your motion sensors to only turn on when someone is there.

Our staff collaborated with the construction company to ensure that the lights at the Ankeny Hill Nature Center, located at Ankeny Hill National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, turned off at night. Additionally, we ensured that there was a manual option available for staff to use. This choice was made to aid in bird migration and reduce light pollution.

Researchers hope to expand the cooperative effort and work with other public organizations to spread the word beyond this annual event now that they have proof that artificial lights do affect bird migrations. For example, NYC Audubon and Brooklyn’s Kings County Brewers Collective recently collaborated to produce the Project Safe Flight IPA. Each beer can, available for purchase at the brewery and at neighborhood stores and eateries, includes information on bird collisions and suggestions for improving the Big Apple’s bird friendliness.

Although the methods used in each of these attempts vary, the message is the same. Elbin states, “The more nighttime darkness we can maintain, the safer it will be for the birds to fly to their destinations.” “.

“Birds have to use things to orient. Celestial cues are one of their tools, enabling them to use star maps like the earliest navigators,” says Susan Elbin, director of conservation and science at NYC Audubon. Nocturnal migrants are drawn to the dazzling display, thinking they are flying toward starlight or something similar, and end up wasting vital energy flying around and making distress calls.

Every year on September 11, two searing columns of light connect the sky to the ground in lower Manhattan—part of a 24-hour installation that commemorates those who were killed or injured by the 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. But in those xenon beams, one can see hundreds of confused birds circling endlessly, as though they were trapped inside.

Elsewhere, advocates are taking legal action to address birds night-light problem. In Kauai, Earthjustice, the Conservation Council for Hawai‘i, and other groups are suing the Hawaii Department of Transportation for violating the federal Endangered Species Act. Their suit alleges that the state failed to adjust beacons at airports and harbors to prevent injuries and deaths of three imperiled seabird species, including the Newells Shearwater.


Do birds like light or dark?

While some bird species are attracted to light, others hide from it. Birds such as common poorwills are strictly nocturnal, only emerging under the cover of darkness to hunt for nocturnal insects. During the day they quietly hide from predators under rocks and foliage, aided by their natural camouflage.

Does light bother birds at night?

Birds flying at night are known to aggregate around artificial light and collide with illuminated objects, which may result from attraction and/or disorientation. In other contexts, birds are repelled by light-based deterrents, including lasers and spotlights.

Are birds affected by LED lights?

It’s not just the brightness of your light bulbs that you should check, though. The color of your lights matters too. LED lights can emit high levels of cool, blue light, which has a relatively far reach and has also been shown to negatively affect wildlife behavior and reproduction.

Do birds light up at night?

There are no known birds or mammals that naturally glow in the dark. However, artificial bioluminescence in animals can be achieved through genetic engineering or the introduction of bioluminescent genes into the animals’ DNA.