CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) -A statewide project called Ohio Lights Out, is trying to get big buildings in big cites to turn off lights at night so that migrating birds don’t get confused and slam into them and die.
Most birds migrate at night when there are fewer predators and winds tend to be lighter.
If there are low clouds or fog, lights from buildings make the atmosphere appear to glow.
“The buildings light up the clouds and birds inexplicably fly towards the light,” according to Harvey Webster, Chief Wildlife Officer for the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. “It’s disorienting. It’s like light noise.”
Lights Out Cleveland has reported that 13 buildings have agreed to turn off all non-essential lights overnight including FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland City Hall, and the Fifth Third Center.
In the spring and fall migration seasons a group of volunteers, lead by the Lake Erie Nature & Science Center walks a route around downtown building looking for dead, stunned or injured birds in the early morning hours.
In the first three years of this program they have collected more than 5,000 birds, of which 1,700 were rehabilitated and returned to the wild.
On one very foggy night in October of 2017, Webster said the volunteers collected around 270 birds who were attracted to downtown lights and hit buildings they could night see.
Joining the program would seem to make sense, according to Webster, who said building owners can save birds and money by shutting off unused lights.
The lights include signs, office lights and decorative landscaping illumination.
“They light them up for marketing, but who sees it after midnight,” Webster said.