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    How Lighting Technology Can Help Reduce Risks to Migrating Birds

    November 14, 2023
    According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, an estimated 500 million to one billion birds have died because of a phenomenon called fatal light attraction, in which artificial lighting disorients migrating birds, often resulting in their collision with buildings.
    Birds rely on natural lighting cues for migration, and artificial lighting can disrupt this natural light-and-dark cycle. This can lead birds to be confused and disoriented, especially in densely populated urban areas where expanses of artificial light appear like stars in the night sky.
    Building with flying birds

    When artificial lighting draws birds off their migration path, the birds become vulnerable around glass buildings that confusingly reflect the sky and habitat around them.

    Though the majority of collisions with buildings actually take place during the day, night-time lighting is a frequent cause of this phenomenon. In fact, the NYC Audubon Society suggests that the amount of light emitted by a building at night is a strong predictor of the number of collisions it will cause – even more so than building height.

    Buildings at night
    The Law, Ethics and Animals Program (LEAP) at Yale Law School and the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) also recently released a report describing strategies and regulations to support bird-friendly buildings – including lighting practices. Here are steps you can take to help mitigate this issue.
    One way to reduce risks to migratory birds is to simply turn out these lights. While the Audubon Society suggests turning off all exterior floodlights, spotlights, decorative, vanity and event lighting year-round, turning off lights from 11 p.m. until 6 a.m. from April 1st through May 31st and August 15th through November 15th can help during the crucial migration seasons.
    Buildings with migrating birds
    The Audubon Society also recommends leveraging technologies that control when, where and how lights function, so artificial lighting can be used with intention, especially during migration season. Signify’s Interact lighting management system offers the capabilities to do just that. You can schedule your building’s lighting to switch off or dim during these evening hours and when occupants are not present. The lighting controls also bring the added benefits of helping you optimize your energy use and operational costs.
    Another way to reduce risks, according to the Audubon Society, is to use outdoor lighting shields that direct light downward, so you can still illuminate the spaces you need while helping to reduce excessive artificial light. Signify offers a variety of outdoor luminaires that direct light downward to ensure no light above 90° and that have shielding options to keep spill light to a minimum.
    Additional lighting solutions from brands like Lumec and Gardco have been designed to be wildlife-friendly and have been certified as DarkSky Approved, meeting requirements for minimizing glare, reducing light trespass and helping to prevent light pollution in the night sky.
    Wildlife-friendly lighting solutions
    Together, these technologies can help birds navigate migration season and even contribute toward other goals you might have for your commercial building or campus like energy savings. You don’t have to wing it – the right lighting can help protect wildlife during migration season and all year long.


    Lindsey Mulrooney
    Lindsey Mulrooney

    Post tags

    connected lighting, animal lighting, wildlife lighting, DarkSky

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