Image: Amy Kinkead

Among the 3 billion birds that North America has lost since the 1970s, mainly to habitat loss, there’s been a huge decline in the millions of migratory nocturnal birds that fly over Houston, too, says Richard Gibbons, conservation director at Houston Audubon. The reason? Light pollution. “You may remember the major mortality event in Galveston in 2017, the first week of May. There was a storm, and it was a big migration night. Almost 400 migratory birds slammed into the American National Insurance building.” While we can’t control the weather conditions that cause migratory birds to fly low, we can prevent fatal collisions by turning off indoor and outdoor lights that disorient them in the first place, which American National now does. Audubon’s Lights Out initiative aims to get more corporations on board to “make Houston a little less like a giant beacon of light.” In fact, we can all turn our lights off at night, put bird tape on our windows to prevent daytime collisions, and follow the advice of Houstonia’s birder-in-chief to protect all of our feathered friends.

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