Metroparks Meetup: “Lights Out” to protect migrating birds

Metroparks Meetup: “Lights Out” to protect migrating birds
Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 6:27 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - “Lights Out Toledo” is a program that aims to make all the glass here in the Glass City safer for migrating birds.

A 2014 study found that half a billion birds die each year across the U.S. due to collisions with buildings, and light pollution at night is a big part of that problem, especially with tall buildings like these.

“Most birds migrate at night. So when there’s bright lights in city centers, it draws birds in, it makes them disorientated, and eventually leads to exhaustion and potentially colliding with glass,” explained Jay Wright, the Director of Conservation Science with Toledo Metroparks.

It’s not just the tall skyscrapers… all it takes is a lot of light and a lot of glass.

“Other buildings that might be low to the ground, only a few stories high, can also be a problem because the reflection of the trees and the habitat in the glass can really be a problem for birds,” added Wright.

About half a dozen of the biggest skyscrapers in Toledo have been enrolled in the Lights Out Toledo program for five years now, and the program is working with the city to get more building owners on board for the fall and spring migrations. But it’s not just about turning off the lights... the new buildings at Glass City Metropark set a good example.

“If you want to have bird-safe glass, you need to put some kind of pattern on the outside of the glass, so it looks like a solid structure to the birds,” Wright told 13abc. “So here at Market Hall, we have this dot pattern over the glass, and that’ll make sure birds can see it.”

The most common victims of window collisions are the very songbirds that bring thousands of visitors into NW Ohio each spring.

“We want to make sure that we’re not losing a lot of these warblers and a lot of the diversity of birds in this area,” explained Jessica Duez, the Community Engagement Coordinator with Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge.

Studies in other cities across Ohio have shown that turning off the lights does reduce collisions with glass, and the first study for Toledo is planned for this April and May.

“We’re going to continue doing this collision monitoring program hopefully into the fall, and hopefully, we can see if Lights Out really is making an impact on bird collisions,” said Duez.

They are looking for volunteers to help with that program, so if you’d like to chip in, you can call Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge (419-898-0014) or join their Facebook group here: