Lights Out Northeast Florida

Flyways of NA Map by USFWSIt is widely known that many of our feathered friends fly south for the winter and north for the summer. But did you know that 3.5 billion birds make this twice-per-year journey, and that Northeast Florida is the second-largest migration path for birds on the Atlantic Flyway?

We commonly see Canada Geese migrating overhead during the day, but many of our favorite songbirds travel at night under the cover of darkness using the moon and stars as their guiding lights. However, bright artificial lights on buildings draw birds toward these lights and off their natural migration paths. The birds will often aimlessly circle a brightly lit building until they collide with it or collapse from exhaustion. By turning out the lights, we can remove a major source of mortality from bird populations already threatened by predators, bad weather, habitat loss due to development, food availability disruptions due to climate change, and more.

Lights Out Northeast Florida is a partnership between Duval Audubon Society, St. Johns County Audubon Society, and Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, that is part of a growing number of Lights Out initiatives across the country to encourage building managers and homeowners to reduce and turn off artificial lighting at night to ensure birds safe passage during their migration.

Spring migration begins in March and continues through May each year, and fall migration starts in September and runs through early November. As the birds are readying for their journey back north this year, it’s time for us to begin preparing to make their journey much safer and uninterrupted.

Here’s what you can do to help!

Northern ParulaIf you are a homeowner:

  • Turn off interior lights (or draw blinds) from 11 pm until 5 am during spring and fall migration seasons
  • Switch outdoor floodlights to timed lights or motion sensor lights
  • Direct outdoor lights to point downward, instead of upward into the sky
  • Encourage the businesses you frequent to turn off their lights or reduce the amount of time their lights are on at night
  • Share our messages and graphics with family and friends, and use the hashtag #LightsOutForBirds

If you are a building owner or manager:

  • Turn off all bright display lighting on top of buildings from 11 pm until 5 am during spring and fall migration seasons
  • Turn off exterior decorative lighting
  • Turn off or dim lobby and atrium lighting
  • Turn off interior lights where possible – especially upper floors (3rd floor and higher)
  • Direct exterior lights to point downward, instead of upward into the sky
  • Switch outdoor floodlights to timed lights or motion sensor lights
  • Schedule cleaning crews before 11 pm (and/or put motion sensor light switches in all rooms)
  • Consider keeping light reduction parameters in place year-round to not only save birds but save on energy costs as well
  • If employees need to work at night, use task lighting rather than overhead lighting, or, close the blinds or drapes

Visit the Lights Out Northeast Florida website to learn more about the initiative, become a partner, or to contact members of our team.

Volunteers Needed!

LightsOut Northeast Logo Primary ColorCentral to this initiative is the need to know how many birds are being killed or injured in the downtown Jacksonville area during migration. And here is where our team of volunteers will play such an important role. There is a need for volunteers to walk downtown areas during spring and fall migration and count birds that have been either killed or injured by window strikes. Specific routes and buildings will be assigned in order to identify potential problem areas. With sufficient data about bird fatalities/injuries, we will be able to have informed discussions with building managers. The goal is to modify night lighting during peak migration months between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m

At this time, we are looking for volunteers to help. Monitoring will occur during the spring and fall migration months (March 15-May 31 and September 15-November 15). It will involve walking an assigned route in downtown Jacksonville once a week in search of dead or injured birds. The walk will start at sunrise and go until the route is complete (about 1 ½ hours). Dead birds will be reported and photographed; additional details will be provided at the training session.

Training will be conducted and all materials needed for the monitoring routes will be provided. However, volunteers will need to use their own cell phone to upload photos as needed to the reporting app.

Volunteers are asked to commit to a training session (virtual), do one walk per week for the 8 weeks of migration, and to submit their data. All volunteers must be 18 or older and sign a release of liability.

Please complete the online application form if you are interested in helping with the data collection effort. We hope you will join us!

Thank you for doing your part to help migrating birds. We can make a difference together.