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Turning outdoor lights out at night protects migrating birds

A flock of Red Knots (a type of sandpiper) in flight along the shore.
(Image credit: NPS photo/Morgan Barnes)
File: A flock of Red Knots (a type of sandpiper) in flight along the shore.

Fall migration season is ramping up. So, Audubon North Carolina is encouraging people to protect migrating birds by turning off lights at night.

This "Lights Out" program is an attempt to limit light pollution. That's where artificial light drowns out the light from many stars.

Audubon engagement director Ben Graham says, that starlight is crucial for migrating birds.

"These birds use the moon and stars to navigate," he explained, "Unfortunately, bright city lights can disorient them. And so, you know, when a bird is flying through a city, bird will fly around in circles, sometimes collapse from exhaustion. Other times, fly into a building and fall down dead or injured."

The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center estimates up to a billion birds each year are killed by colliding into buildings.

Graham recommends taking steps like turning off or shielding exterior and decorative lights, now through November 30th.