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Go Lights Out this Fall to Help Birds Migrating Through NC

The leaves might not be changing colors yet but fall migration is underway. Turn out lights at night to help migrating birds navigate their way south.

DURHAM, NC – Have you ever looked up at the sky at night without seeing a single star? Cities are big sources of light pollution, which can have negative impacts on birds year-round, but especially during migration. The solution is simple: turn off excess lighting at night from September 10 to November 30, and help keep migrating birds safe this fall. 

“It may still feel like summer, but fall migration is ramping up quickly for many of our birds. One of the biggest dangers they face on their journey through North Carolina is bright city lights,” says Interim Executive Director Curtis Smalling. “Fortunately, our chapters have led the way by bringing Lights Out programs to communities across the state. But no matter where you are, you can help birds this fall by turning off lights at night and encouraging others to do the same, including your employer or building manager.” 

As an essential stopover state for millions of migrating birds, North Carolina has been a leader in the lights out movement for over a decade. That momentum is growing with six cities—including Asheville, Chapel Hill, Greensboro, Matthews, Cary and Raleigh—adopting Lights Out programs since the fall of 2021. This year marks the 10th anniversary of Lights Out Raleigh, a campaign led by Wake Audubon Society members and community leaders that has served as an example for surrounding communities. 

We’re hoping to build on those accomplishments this fall by calling on residents and businesses to turn out lights at night to help provide safe passage for migrating birds between their nesting and wintering grounds. 

Reducing Bird-building Collisions

Many birds make their long migrations south at night using the moon and stars to navigate—often flying over urban centers. Unfortunately, bright lights can attract birds, causing them to become disoriented and collide with buildings or collapse from exhaustion. According to the Smithsonian Migratory Birds Center, an estimated 300 million to 1 billion birds are killed each year due to fatal building collisions. 

One study in Chicago found that turning off just half the lights of a building reduced bird deaths by 60 percent. As fall migration brings greater bird traffic to our area, here is what you can do to help no matter where you live or work: 

  • Turn off exterior decorative lighting 
  • ​Extinguish pot and flood-lights 
  • Substitute strobe lighting wherever possible 
  • Reduce atrium lighting wherever possible 
  • Reduce interior lighting especially on higher stories 
  • Close blinds and curtains 
  • Down-shield exterior lighting to eliminate horizontal glare and all light directed upward 
  • Install automatic motion sensors and controls wherever possible 
  • When converting to new lighting assess quality and quantity of light needed, avoiding over-lighting with newer, brighter technology 

To learn how you can get involved with an active Lights Out program, contact your local chapter. 

Media Contact: Brittany Salmons, 

About Audubon North Carolina

Audubon North Carolina, a state program of the National Audubon Society, has offices in Durham, Boone, Corolla, and Wilmington. Learn more at and on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.​ The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. Learn more at and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @audubonsociety.

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