Mayor's Office Press Release
The City of Houston Proclaims “Lights Out Nights” in Houston to Help Migrating Birds Traveling Through Region
Businesses and Residents Encouraged to Turn Off Lights Each Evening
April 12, 2021 -- Mayor Sylvester Turner has proclaimed April 19 - May 7, 2021 “Lights Out Nights” in Houston, encouraging all businesses, residents, and building managers to turn off non-essential exterior lighting from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. during the period of peak migration for birds through Texas.
An estimated two billion birds migrate through the state of Texas each year, around one quarter to one-third of all birds migrating throughout the United States. Most North American migratory birds travel at night, and lights on buildings can attract and disorient these birds, resulting in fatal collisions with buildings.
Houston and the Upper Texas Coast play a key role on the Central Flyway, an important migratory path for birds. Birds that move along and across the Gulf of Mexico depend on safe passage through the Houston-Galveston area. In a 2019 study, though, Houston was found to be the second most dangerous city in the country for migrating birds in terms of exposure to light pollution due to the intersection of its high light output and the vast numbers of migratory birds that pass over the city.
"Along with being beautiful, birds are important to our ecosystem. I encourage everyone to do their part to protect the large number that will be migrating and flying across Texas," said Mayor Sylvester Turner. "The city of Houston will turn off the lights of City Hall during the designated hours, and I hope businesses and residents will follow our example. As we reduce light pollution, we will increase efforts to educate the public on why it is important to prevent so many birds from dying annually due to the risk of collision.”
While “Lights Out Nights” runs April 19 - May 7 in Houston, everyone is encouraged to turn building lights out nightly if possible, throughout the spring until migration in Texas ends June 15.
“Houston Audubon applauds the City’s leadership in encouraging Houstonians to turn off or dim their lights during the peak critical bird migration period,” said Helen Drummond, Executive Director of Houston Audubon. “We are proud that our city is joining Texas businesses, other city leaders and conservation partners in this important statewide effort to help give migrating birds a greater chance surviving their arduous journey to and from North and South America each fall and spring.”
Lights Out Texas is a statewide initiative started in Houston to raise awareness of bird migration and is led by a coalition of conservation non-profits, universities, governmental organizations, and Texans dedicated to the conservation of birds.
“While Houston’s bright lights can present a risk to the wealth of migratory birds that cross Texas each year, that also means that Houston has the ability and opportunity to make a tremendous impact to save wildlife just by turning lights out,” said Julia Wang, BirdCast Project Leader at Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
“We’re so excited to see Houston seizing this opportunity to join the cities participating in Lights Out across Texas this spring, and hopefully throughout migration seasons to come. The environmental stewardship of caring Texans can trim not only energy bills but also make all the difference for our birds.”
The Lights Out Texas initiative is possible thanks to a partnership led by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Houston Audubon, Texas Conservation Alliance, Dallas Zoo, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Texan by Nature, and many others.
To learn more about this effort or to sign up to receive Lights Out Alerts for our region, visit https://birdcast.info/science-to-action/lights-out/.