Two other American cities – Philadelphia and Fort Worth – have pledged to turn off lights to help migratory birds.
A mass collision event in October 2020 that killed hundreds of birds in Philadelphia sparked nonprofits and the city government to form Bird Safe Philly, a coalition of nonprofits, to resolve the issue.
The voluntary program, announced last week, involves turning off or blocking as many external and internal building lights as possible at night during migration season, when millions of birds roam the city.
The first season of Lights Out Philly kicks off on April 1 at the start of Spring Migration and lasts through May 31, when most of the winged migrants have crossed the city. In the fall, Lights Out Philly and Peak Migration will take place between August 15 and November 15, when birds travel south.
Lights Out Philly is the result of a collaboration led by the Drexel University Academy of Sciences, the Delaware Valley Ornithological Club, Audubon Mid-Atlantic, and two local chapters of the Audubon Society – Valley Forge and Wyncote. In addition to the Office for Sustainability of the City of Philadelphia, the Bird Safe Philly initiative is supported by the BOMA (Building Owners and Managers Association) in Philadelphia and the Building Industry Association in Philadelphia.
Comcast, which owns the city’s two tallest buildings, and Brandywine Realty Trust, the city’s largest landlord, as well as a dozen other building operators / owners have also pledged their support.
“We are encouraged with all efforts in our community to join this critical initiative to save so many birds from unnecessary harm and even death,” said Scott Cooper, President and CEO of the Academy of Sciences. “A simple thing like turning off lights can help thousands of birds safely navigate our challenging urban environment.”
“Nobody wants to kill migratory birds”
In Fort Worth, environmental politicians, with the help of former first lady Laura Bush, convinced city officials to turn off the city lights. The Fort Worth Star Telegram reports:
“During the migration periods in spring and autumn, the city skyline will darken between midnight and 6 a.m. This makes Fort Worth the first major city in Texas to sign up for the Lights Out campaign for the entire season, ”said Julia Wang, project manager at Cornell Laboratory. Eleven buildings including the Bank of America Tower, Pier 1 building and Trinity Terrace were shut down on March 8th and will last until May 31st. The fall migration period lasts between August 15 and November 30, when more than 1 billion birds travel south through Texas on a freeway. “
“All the pieces of the puzzle came together for Fort Worth to participate,” said Andy Taft, president of Downtown Fort Worth Inc., who worked with city officials on Lights Out. “Nobody wants to kill migratory birds, and if science suggests that we can do something about it and it’s that simple, why not try? Why not be a part of it? “
More than 30 other cities have Lights Out programs, including New York, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Baltimore, and Washington, DC. The National Audubon Society and partners launched the first Lights Out program in Chicago in 1999.
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