ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – As cold weather creeps in and leaves threaten to turn their colors orange, something else is soon to happen across New York. Birds are set to take flight for winter migration – and you can help make sure they have a safe flight.
The Catskill Nature Conservancy has shared details on how electric light can affect migration patterns. According to a post by the conservancy on Facebook, around two-thirds of all songbird species migrate by night. When they do, light pollution can cause confusion and force them off course.
If possible, it’s recommended that residents across the state turn off whatever electric lights they can by night between Sept. 6 – Oct. 6. Where that isn’t possible, you can still help by being careful with what kinds of bulbs you use. Here’s what’s safe and what’s likely to cause a problem:
- Worst bulbs
- Colder light and bluish whites are considered the worst culprits for distracting and confusing migrating birds
- One step up
- Warmer light, including yellowish and red bulbs
- Better still
- Outdoor light bulbs that are shielded will not shine up into the path of birds as strongly. Motion-sensor lights are effective for similar reasons
- Best option
- The best way to go is to have all lights off that are possible
The conservancy also recommends closing drapes if working or doing other activities indoors at night.
The sentiment echoes at a state level. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation reports migration season is the highest source of bird mortality. Distraction from lights is one reason. Others can include collisions with power lines, buildings and vehicles; and exhaustion if birds cannot find enough food on their way south. State buildings have adopted the “Lights Out Initiative,” ensuring all non-essential lights are off or dimmed at night to help birds find their way.
The DEC recommends thinking about windows when migration-proofing your home or workplace. Window treatments can be bought to reduce transparency, which can save a bird from thinking they can fly through your office or your living room.
Early September has seen low amounts of migration in northern areas of New York. Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology operates a nationwide migration map for those who want to learn more.