It may still be summer, but fall bird migration is just around the corner. With this in mind, the Atlanta Audubon Society is gearing up for the fall monitoring through Project Safe Flight Atlanta and its companion program, Lights Out Atlanta, with the goal of monitoring and reducing bird deaths caused by building collisions.
Each year, an estimated 350 million to 1 billion birds die in the United States after colliding with buildings. The problem is particularly bad during spring and fall migration. Fall bird migration begins in mid-August and runs through mid-November.
The society has been studying collision-related bird deaths through its Project Safe Flight Atlanta Program for the past two years. Project Safe Flight volunteers patrol selected routes during peak bird migration periods collecting birds that have died or been injured after colliding with buildings. Since the program launch in fall 2015, more than 619 birds of 83 different species have been collected. The society is actively recruiting volunteers to help patrol Project Safe Flight Atlanta routes. Training is provided. For more information or to volunteer, visit www.atlantaaudubon.org/project-safe-flight.
In an effort to reduce the number of bird-building collisions, Atlanta Audubon launched the Lights Out Atlanta Program this spring. A voluntary program, Lights Out Atlanta encourages building owners and residential homeowners to turn off or reduce lighting from midnight to dawn during the peak bird migration periods. Participants pledge to reduce nonessential lighting during peak migration periods of March 15 to May 31 (spring) and Aug. 15 to Nov. 15 (fall). The pledge is available on the Atlanta Audubon website at www.atlantaaudubon.org/lightsoutatlanta. Since Lights Out Atlanta launched this spring, nearly 100 homeowners and 14 commercial properties have pledged to turn the lights out to help birds, including the city of Atlanta, Cox Enterprises, Highwoods Properties, Parmenter Realty Partners and the SouthFace Energy Institute.
Atlanta Audubon is once again partnering with the Atlanta Better Building Challenge on Lights Out Atlanta outreach. This partnership is a natural fit since the challenge program’s goal is to reduce energy and water use in commercial buildings by 20 percent by 2020. The challenge already encourages participants to turn off any unnecessary nighttime lighting.
Modeled after other successful programs in Toronto, New York and Minneapolis, Lights Out Atlanta is working with building owners, property management companies, tenants, local governments, and homeowners to make Atlanta safe for passing birds. Studies have shown that bird deaths during peak migration periods can be dramatically reduced when exterior architectural and unnecessary lighting is turned off. Lights Out Atlanta has an additional benefit of reducing energy usage and cost to help properties achieve their sustainability goals.