Turn off the lights! Washington state residents have urged to turn off artificial lighting as more than 11.5 million migratory birds use the stars to find their way home will fill the night sky this week.
- Millions of birds left the Gulf of Mexico for Washington
- Tens of thousands of birds are expected on Friday and over the weekend
- Even so, scientists say that at least 2.6 million will flood the sky on Monday
- Birds choose to make the flight at night to avoid predators
- It also means that they fly when artificial light illuminates the sky
- Light pollution can confuse birds, causing them to collide with buildings
Residents of Washington state are being urged to dim the outdoor lights in preparation for the more than 11.5 million migratory birds that will fill the night sky over the next few days.
About 2,600 flew over Spokane on Thursday evening and an estimated 12,700 skies over Seattle as well, but the bulk of it is expected tonight through Monday.
More than 7,800 birds are expected to fly over Seattle Friday evening and 3,700 over Tacoma, a total of 2.7 million across the state and 2.6 million more expected on Monday.
Birds come from their winter breeding grounds in the Gulf of Mexico and choose to take a long flight at night to avoid predators and take advantage of the lower temperatures to raise their body temperature.
However, predators may no longer pose their biggest threat, with light pollution now killing as many as 988 million birds each year.
Feathered creatures get blurred by artificial light and instead of landing quietly on green pastures, many of them collide with solid windows and buildings.
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Residents of Washington state are being urged to dim the outdoor lights in preparation for the more than 11.5 million migratory birds that will fill the night sky over the next few days. Seattle is on high alert to “turn off the lights”, which will see more than 7,800 birds fly Friday night
“It’s amazing how these birds travel thousands of miles at night,” said Dr. Alejandro Rico Guevara, assistant professor of biology at the University of Washington and curator of birds at the Bourke Museum, King5.
Through this, they use different signals. One of them is starlight and moonlight, and the various lights in the environment that have appeared alive in the past 100 years are really bewildering.
Migration began earlier this week and most of the birds were at the last distance of the flight.
Roughly 70 percent of all North American birds migrate at this time and 80 percent of them choose to fly at night.
Birds come from their winter breeding grounds in the Gulf of Mexico and choose to take a long flight at night to avoid predators and take advantage of the lower temperatures to raise their body temperature. But light pollution confuses birds
However, man-made light pollution hinders its ability to stay in its path while it soars about 1,000 to 2,000 feet in the air, causing it to collide with windows and buildings.
Trina Bayard, director of bird protection at Audubon Washington, told The Spokesman-Review that light pollution kills between 365 million and 988 million birds each year.
Rico Guevara said reducing light pollution is generally a good practice but is especially important during migration seasons – and even more so when forecasts show large numbers of birds passing through metro areas, like this week.
“These huge buildings are what attract the most birds because they reach the highest level in the sky,” he said. “But as an individual, we can definitely make a difference in just reducing the overall glare of the area.”
Roughly 70 percent of all North American birds migrate at this time and 80 percent of them choose to fly at night. The photo shows thousands of geese migrating back to Washington in previous years
New York City is one of the brightest cities in the world, and in 2015, officials began converting state buildings to “unnecessary outdoor lighting” at night to help birds get to their destination safely.
The change takes effect at 11 PM ET and continues until dawn during the height of the migrations during the spring and fall seasons.
The lights-out efforts are working to protect birds in other cities on the East Coast including Baltimore, Washington, and Midwest regions including Chicago, Minneapolis and San Francisco, according to Audubon.