As anyone who has enjoyed watching birds fly over Hill Country knows, Texas is big with the birds. In fact, about one in every three birds migrating through the U.S. fly through Texas, Austin news outlet KVUE reports based on research done by the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology and Lights Out Texas. Those many, many migrating birds use the moon and stars to navigate during their nighttime flights, so light from buildings, especially in urban areas, can confuse them. Those bright city lights attract birds and then disorient them. They can end up going in the wrong direction and getting exhausted, which makes them vulnerable to having a deadly encounter with a building.
Luckily there's an easy way to help—turn your lights off at night while you're sleeping. Earlier this week Austin's Travis County Commissioners Court voted in favor of a new effort to help save the lives of migrating birds. It asks residents and businesses to turn off or dim non-essential lights from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. during the peak bird migration period, which runs from Monday, April 19, 2021, through Friday, May 7, 2021. Easy, right?
This is not just an Austin initiative, either. The Laura Bush-founded nonprofit, Texan by Nature, has been advocating for lights out across the state, too. It's all in the hopes of helping keep birds safe and on the right path while they fly through Texas.
There are plenty of ways that Southerners outside of Texas can join the cause, too. Get involved with the Audubon Society's nationwide initiative called Lights Out, which works to protect migrating birds. Making a difference has never been easier—just turn off your lights when you're sleeping, and you can help save a life.
A small task could make a big impact for our feathered friends.