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Lights Out Portland

Many diurnal birds migrate at night in order to avoid predation, maximize daylight foraging hours, and use celestial cues for navigation.

Lights Out Portland graphic

Fall Migration Dates: August 25 to November 15, dusk until 11 p.m.
Spring Migration Dates
: March 15 to June 7, dusk until 11 p.m.

It may come as a surprise, but many diurnal birds migrate at night in order to avoid predation, maximize daylight foraging hours, and use celestial cues for navigation.

NASA Satellite image
NASA Satellite image

Bright city lights lure these nighttime migrants into urban areas and confuse them by obscuring their navigational aids, which makes it difficult for the birds to find their way back out of a developed area. Once trapped in the windowed maze of the city, birds may hit buildings directly or circle buildings until they collapse from exhaustion.

Lights Out programs help to prevent birds from being attracted into urban areas. In Chicago, one Lights Out building showed an 80 percent decrease in strike rates after joining the LO ranks. Lights Out programs also help us save energy, reduce our carbon footprint, save money, and restore our view of the stars. An emerging field of study is discovering that ecological light pollution is a hazard to the circadian rhythms of plants, animals and humans.

What's more, there is a gold rush conversion to LED technology happening around the globe. And while LEDs are great for saving energy and money, not all LEDs are safe for birds, fish, wildlife, and human health and vision. Research on blue-rich white light LEDs is now showing them to be a serious risk to our environment. Luckily there are warm light LED alternatives and emerging best practices in lighting design that include: fully shielding light fixtures, aiming light down, and carefully considering lighting levels and spectral output. Read more here.

The issue of ecological light pollution is gaining visibility, and research is emerging that confirms our increasing concerns about the unintended consequences of poorly designed lighting. This research provides important guidance as we move forward and make strategic decisions about how we want to light our rapidly growing region. See AMA Study, CNN article and Upworthy article on the health and environmental impacts of lighting.

How Local Businesses Can Help

Lights Out Portland is a voluntary program in which building owners turn off unnecessary overnight lighting during migration season to minimize bird strikes and fatalities. Portland Audubon is actively working with individual building owners, city government, and agencies to adopt the program.

Lights Out participation is voluntary and seasonal. Buildings are asked to extinguish unnecessary overnight lighting from late August through mid-November (fall) and mid-March through early June (spring). Top priority is turning off exterior, ornamental and rooftop architectural lighting. To comply, buildings can also extinguish interior lighting on upper floors, move maintenance and cleaning activities to daytime hours, turn off upward-directed sign lighting and make sure that outdoor lights are properly shielded.

If you are interested in participating, fill out our online sign-up form or contact Mary Coolidge at mcoolidge@audubonportland.org

How Local Residents Can Help

Official enrollment in Lights Out is for large-scale buildings, but we can all contribute to the solution. Make sure your exterior light fixtures are well-shielded, and are not producing dazzling glare. Select warm LED bulbs that are under a 3,000 Kelvin rating. During migration seasons, draw blinds or curtains to reduce light spill that contributes to sky glow. Encourage your employer to enroll in Lights Out Portland! There are also a variety of ways to reduce strikes at home year-round.

More Information

Need a cash incentive? Energy Trust of Oregon offers incentives to increase the energy-efficiency of lighting fixtures and controls. Visit Energy Trust of Oregon to learn more.

Worried about safety? Read up on how poorly-designed lighting actually decreases safety or on how The Chicago Alley Lighting Project revealed that crime increased 21 percent after alley lighting was increased in both frequency and wattage.

Lights Out Portland Flyer (pdf)
International Dark Sky Association
Humane Society Lights Out Info
LEED Light Pollution Reduction Credit

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