Press release from City of Asheville:
Mayor Esther Manheimer has proclaimed March through May, and September through November as “Bird Migration Awareness Months” to promote the protection of birds during their peak migration periods. As part of a “Lights Out” program, the Mayor is encouraging all businesses, residents, and building managers to turn off non-essential lighting from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. during spring and fall months to reduce bird mortality and save on energy costs.
Asheville in the Migratory Path
Millions of birds migrate through western North Carolina every year, and most fly at night, using the night sky to help them navigate. Bright artificial lights and skyglow can cause birds to become disoriented, often resulting in fatal collisions with buildings. Asheville was listed among the top 125 U.S. cities with migration-disrupting light pollution and students from the University of North Carolina at Asheville (UNCA) have documented bird fatalities at 50 buildings on campus and within city limits.
Asheville is located along the convergence of two neotropical migratory pathways, the Mississippi Flyway and the Atlantic Flyway. It is estimated over 50,000 birds per kilometer per hour fly over Asheville during peak migration times spring and fall. Bird collisions cause as many as one billion bird deaths each year. These deaths are one of the factors most responsible for a 29% decline in North American bird populations since 1970.
“Today we are raising awareness of the importance of reducing threats faced by migratory birds as they journey through our city. We thank the Coalition for a Bird-Friendly Asheville for their commitment to developing a ‘Lights Out’ initiative designed to help protect birds from building collisions,” said Mayor Manheimer. The City will utilize currently available resources to turn off non-essential lights in its buildings and facilities during the spring and fall months. “This simple step will not only benefit birds, but also help reduce the city’s energy use and carbon emissions. We encourage all commercial and residential building owners and managers to turn off or redirect excess lighting” she added. The City of Asheville now joins other North Carolina cities, including Raleigh, Charlotte, and Winston-Salem in promoting a ‘Lights Out’ program.
The Coalition has outlined simple steps that Asheville building owners and managers can take to help prevent fatal bird-window collisions:
-Turn off indoor and outdoor lights between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. when possible, especially during the months of spring and fall migration (March – May and September – November)
-Install automatic motion sensors or timers to extinguish unneeded lighting
-Redirect or down-shield outdoor lights to reduce upward illumination
-Replace blue-toned lighting (6,000 K+) with warmer, yellow lighting (3,000 K)
-Ask building employees to draw blinds while working at night
While all unnecessary lighting should be reduced, the exterior decorative lights and lighted upper stories are a priority as they can disorient night migrating birds, especially in inclement weather. These steps have the added benefit of saving money on energy costs.
The Coalition for a Bird-Friendly Asheville, in collaboration with local organizations, including UNCA Audubon, Blue Ridge Audubon Chapter, and other community partners, is dedicated to bird conservation and provides building and homeowners with information on how to protect birds from building hazards caused by windows and exterior lighting.
To learn more about bird-building collisions and how you can help, visit the Coalition for a Bird-Friendly Asheville’s website at https://www.birdsafeavl.org/.