Many songbirds migrate at night. Light pollution from urban areas can throw them off course and increase the likelihood that they hit buildings. Adopting responsible lighting control practices and reducing unnecessary lighting at night, especially during the critical periods of spring and fall migration, are simple ways to help migrating birds. As a bonus, these techniques also lead to energy and cost savings from decreased electricity usage and help reduce your building’s carbon footprint.

Indigo Bunting

Indigo Buntings, like most songbirds, migrate at night and rely in part on the stars to navigate. Photo: Carol L. Edwards

man working at desk

Interior Lighting

  • Turn off all lights in unused interior spaces.

  • Dim lights from 10pm to 6am in public areas, i.e., lobbies, atria, retail, etc.

  • Turn off non-security overhead lighting in occupied spaces, while encouraging the use of task lighting at workstations.

  • Draw blinds when interior spaces are occupied, i.e., at workstations.

  • Confine safety and security lighting to areas required by the law/building code.

  • Restrict cleaning of interior spaces during daylight hours.

  • Install motion sensors or an auto shutoff system with a maximum 30-minute vacant period.

Exterior Lighting

  • Install only shielded, downward-directed fixtures.

  • Limit lighting to areas where required for safety and security.

  • Limit exterior architectural lighting to grade level.

  • Prohibit spots, floods, and advertising lighting during bird migration months: March through early June and August through mid-November.

building at night

For further information