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DEC: Turn “Lights Out” to Protect Migrating Birds


New Yorkers can protect migrating birds as they navigate night skys by taking part in the “Lights Out” initiative.

Many species of shorebirds and songbirds rely on constellations to help them navigate to and from their summer breeding grounds through the state. Excessive outdoor lighting, especially in adverse weather conditions, can cause migrating birds to become disoriented, a phenomenon known as fatal light attraction. According to the National Zoological Park and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, fatal light attraction has led to collisions with windows, walls, floodlights, or the ground and the death of an estimated 365 to 988 million birds annually in the United States.

Lights Out directs State-owned and managed buildings to turn off non-essential outdoor lighting from 11 p.m. to dawn during the spring migration April 15 through May 31, and also during the peak fall migration, Aug. 15 through Nov. 15. State agencies are also encouraged to draw blinds, when possible, and turn off non-essential indoor lighting during Lights Out times. In addition to benefiting migrating birds, Lights Out promotes sustainability and provides cost-savings to the state.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “We all play a role in protecting the environment and wildlife and the national Lights Out initiative is a simple way to help a variety of bird species survive and thrive during the busy migration season. DEC is proud to join our New York State partners to lead by example and take actions to reduce bird collisions.”

New York State Office of General Services (OGS) Commissioner Jeanette Moy said, “Reducing excessive outdoor lighting is an easy and practical step we can take to minimize one of the many dangerous obstacles birds face during their long annual migrations. OGS is proud to join with DEC and our other partners in state government to help our avian friends safely navigate to their spring nesting sites and wintering grounds.”

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