Group encourages turning lights off to help migratory birds

Local News

While all of the windows and bright lights from buildings like these in Columbus might look nice to us, for birds, they can be deadly. A group called Lights Out Columbus came together to help make sure that birds can safely migrate through Ohio. 

Matthew Shumar, Program Coordinator for Ohio Bird Conservation Imitative said, “We’ve found a pretty staggering number of birds.  In the last 2 years, we found 5,000 birds in downtown Cleveland, and about 1600 of those were alive and rehabilitated and released back in the wild.”

And this time of year, that’s a problem in Columbus as well.  From March 15 through the end of May, you won’t see many of these migrating birds during the day because they do most of their traveling at night. So, when city and neighborhood lights come on, their sense of direction is thrown off. 

“They make most of their trip at night guided by star fields and lunar paths and other celestial cues. 
 And artificial light has the potential to disrupt those migratory cues,” Shumar said.

And during the day windows can be a problem too, especially during sunrise. 

“They don’t have that cognitive ability. They did not evolve with reflections, and so what they see is an extension of their habitat generally, and that’s where we have a lot of those problems,” Shumar said.

Problems that can be reduced by treating your windows and reducing unnecessary artificial light, and not interfere with the design. 

“Especially with modern architectural design, there’s a lot of glass being in cooperated in with buildings.  So, ultimately, we want to see building design and city planning in a way that is sustainable with native wildlife.  So, ultimately reducing bird mortality,” said Shumar.

Since 2012 there has been a growing number of business and neighborhoods participating in Lights Out.  To find out more about how to get involved, you can visit their website

If you’d like to sign up your building, neighborhood or volunteer with the organization, you can do that at https://ohiolightsout.org/participate/

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