Chicago, IL

Chicago Residents Living in Highrise Urged to Turn Off Lights After 11:00pm

Natalie Frank, Ph.D.

Chicagoans can help save migrating birds by turning off lights at night.

For several months starting during the late summer, Chicagoans are encouraged to turn off their lights after 11:00pm if they live in high rise buildings. This can help prevent migrating birds from flying into their windows.

There are around 250 species that migrate through Chicago each fall. This amounts to approximately 5 million birds. The Chicago Audubon Society says that many birds die during the migration season because they are attracted by the bright lights from buildings and fly into the windows. Some birds also die because when confused by the lights which causes them to circle buildings repeatedly until they die from exhaustion. Reflective windows can also be a problem for birds who fly into them when they see the reflected image of trees or sky.

Turning off lights at night or keeping the blinds or curtains closed will help birds remain on course without their sense of direction being thrown off. This is a recommendation for all those living on the upper floors of building that are 40 stories or higher or those that are 20 stories or higher but aren’t near other buildings.

It is not just tall building that can be a problem form birds in Chicago, however. Even single-story buildings along the lake front that have a lot of glass in them can cause birds to become confused. Those who own or live in buildings of this type are also encouraged to keep their lights off or blinds and curtains drawn after 11:00pm.

Those who live or work in tall buildings around the perimeter of downtown Chicago, are asked to keep their lights off lights or keep windows covered from 4:00am until it is full daylight out.

Chicago is considered to be a “superhighway” for birds that like to fly along waterways when migrating and is one of the most heavily traveled locations on the Mississippi Flyway the most populated migration path in the country. It is also a common stopping point for land birds who don’t like to fly over water when tired and use the city as a resting point.

These precautions should be followed through November 15th. Anyone who finds and injured bird can call the Chicago Bird Collision Monitors at (773)988-1867

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