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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 dawn
Spring Migration Dates
: March 15 to June 7, dusk until dawn

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.

How Local Businesses Can Help

In 2011, Portland Audubon received a Together Green grant from Toyota and National Audubon Society to launch Lights Out Portland, 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 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 Bob Sallinger at bsallinger@audubonportland.org. Participating buildings will be named on our website and in press releases!

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. 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.

Lights Out Participating Buildings

Fox Tower
Portland Building (in progress)
Congress Center
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Regional Office (in progress)

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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