The yellow-crowned night heron. 

Image: Greg Lavaty

And now to turn our attention to something always at the top of our minds: Birds. That's right, Houston Audubon’s Bird Week 2020 is heading our way—September 19–26—with 23 events (both virtual and in-person) aimed at every type of birder, from bespectacled youth to binocular-clad snoot (it's a vibe).

Along with participating in a community effort to count our local chimney swifts, attending a Purple Martin migration watch party, or helping out with a bird survey, enthusiasts can also choose from a slew of virtual bird walks, classes, trivia, movie nights, and more this year—check out the full schedule here—all in celebration of our resident birds and the important role Houston plays in the journey of billions of migratory birds.

And with those migrating friends in mind, here's your autumnal reminder to turn out your lights for birds at night, especially if you live in a home that's three stories or taller.  

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Houston Audubon, and other partners have just launched the fall edition of Lights Out Texas to help protect the flocks flying over Houston on their way to wintering grounds in Central and South America and the Caribbean. These birds typically fly at night and can easily become distracted by light emitted from buildings—it’s estimated some 365 to 988 million birds are killed when they collide with buildings each year. Homeowners, businesses, and managers of tall buildings can turn off (or, at least, reduce) lighting between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. from now through October 29 to help. 

You can also head over to BirdCast, a monitoring program run by a consortium of researchers, which maps bird migration in real time, allows you to receive alerts via email, and offers three-day migration forecasts—in fact, looks like we're going to see high migration the next couple days in Houston, so do turn those lights out, folks.

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