The spring migration is peaking in Texas, and that means it’s time to turn off lights at night to protect passing birds.
Up to a billion birds die after hitting glass windows each year in the United States, according to the American Bird Conservancy. Some of the deaths occur after birds fly into commercial high-rise buildings, but about half the deaths happen when they smash into the windows of private homes.
That’s why the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is encouraging homeowners to turn their lights off at night through mid-May as part of their Lights Out campaign.
Bright lights can confuse birds as they pass through Texas on their way up north. And birds don’t understand the concept of glass as an invisible barrier, so they try to fly into lighted windows.
Houston Audubon and the American National Insurance Company launched the original Lights Out initiative in 2017. A nationwide program sponsored by BirdCast began around the same time.
It’s especially important in Texas. An estimated 2 billion birds pass through our state on their way to nesting grounds up north each spring and fall.
To make their trip safer, turn off all nonessential lights from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. each night until mid-May. Close blinds at night. Don’t use landscape lighting to illuminate trees or gardens where birds may be resting. And if you must keep a light on for security purposes, aim the beam downward and use lighting shields to avoid casting bright light into trees or the sky.
Learn more about bird-friendly window decals that can reduce collisions here.