Bird Safe Philly Kicks Off Fall Migration With Seasonal Lights Out Philly Program
Local conservation coalition asks property managers, tenants and residential buildings to turn off lights at night to protect migrating birds.
August 11, 2021
Fall bird migration is underway and millions of birds are beginning to reach
Philadelphia as they head south for the winter, newly hatched young embarking on their first migration. Bird Safe Philly is asking Lights Out Philly participants — and everyone — to turn
off or block non-essential lights from midnight to 6:00 a.m. from August 15 to November 15 to protect migratory
birds traveling along the Atlantic Flyway.
“Birds like the Common Yellowthroat just
endured a challenging nesting season as the impacts of climate-related events like heat waves and wildfires continue
to make it more difficult to survive. As yellowthroats and other nocturnal migrants travel thousands of miles to
their wintering grounds, we can make it safer for the birds that migrate through our city by minimizing the amount
of bright artificial lights they are exposed to while they are migrating at night,” said Keith Russell,
conservation program manager at Audubon Mid-Atlantic. “We were
inspired by the
support that Lights Out Philly received this spring, and we encourage everyone, from building managers to small
businesses and homeowners, to once again turn off, block, or dim artificial lights at night and around dawn.”
Since the launch of Lights Out Philly in spring 2021, the Philadelphia community came together in a remarkable way to
protect birds. The program now has 36 commercial buildings, 43 residential sign-ups, and six municipal buildings
that have agreed to voluntarily switch off unnecessary lights between midnight and 6 a.m. during migration seasons,
especially in a building’s upper levels, lobby and atrium.
“Bird Safe Philly’s spring migration Lights Out was a resounding success with significant participation from building
owners and managers and continued data collection on collisions through the coalition’s collision monitoring
program. However, during fall migration, numbers of migrating birds are even higher because young birds born during
the summer are making their way south in epic and dangerous migratory flights for the first time,” said
Jason Weckstein, PhD, curator of Ornithology, Academy of Natural Science of Drexel University.
“Under normal circumstances, mortality of these young first-time travelers is high. I am excited that our city is
doing the right thing and minimizing the barriers to these birds heading south to their wintering grounds.”
Community science is underway to assess the impact of Lights Out Philly using collision monitoring. This data
collection, led by Audubon Mid-Atlantic, involves daily monitoring by volunteers searching for, identifying, and
counting killed or injured birds that have collided with buildings in a particular area. While the long-term impact
of Lights Out Philly is not yet known and each city’s circumstances result in varying degrees of impact, a similar
program in Chicago–the first Lights Out city in the
nation–has reported saving 10,000 birds annually as well as
decreasing energy usage and building maintenance costs.
“Lights Out is helping Philadelphia be more energy efficient and wildlife friendly,” said Councilmember
Gilmore Richardson (At-Large). “As Chair of the Committee on the Environment, I was thrilled to
support, along with
my colleague Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson, the creation of a Lights Out initiative in Philadelphia. We need these
simple, efficient and effective programs to help us keep birds safe. I urge all Philadelphians to participate in
“The City is on its way to reaching carbon neutrality by 2050, and reducing energy usage is one step in a suite of
solutions to lowering carbon emissions. We’re proud to support Lights Out Philly to not only make our city safer for
millions of birds, but to also make strides toward becoming a carbon neutral city for us all,” said
Christine Knapp, director of Philadelphia’s Office of Sustainability.
“PECO’s iconic Crown Lights messaging system continues to educate our community on important topics and events and
will be used to communicate the importance of Lights Out Philly. In addition, to reduce bird deaths, our Crown
Lights will feature animation as well as adjusted brightness to reduce the attractiveness to birds,” said
Hamilton, vice president of support services at PECO. “Anyone can participate in Lights Out Philly –
businesses, and municipalities – and PECO is proud to be an early participant in the initiative to protect migratory
birds as they navigate Philadelphia’s night sky.”
Lights Out Philly is an initiative of Bird Safe Philly, a coalition led by the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel
University, Delaware Valley Ornithological Club, Audubon Mid-Atlantic, and two local Audubon Society chapters —
Valley Forge and Wyncote. The collaborative joined forces following a mass collision
event in October 2020 where
more than 1,000 migrating birds collided with buildings within a small area in downtown Philadelphia.
Early partners and continued supporters of the inaugural season of Lights Out Philly include: Building Owners and
Managers Association (BOMA) Philadelphia and nearly 40 BOMA Member Buildings, the Building Industry Association of
Philadelphia, and PECO. Find a full list of buildings and participants that have pledged support here.
Learn more about Lights Out Philly and sign up to participate here: https://www.birdsafephilly.org/lights-out.
Learn about ways you can make any home or building more bird-friendly with seven simple and inexpensive solutions
from Audubon Mid-Atlantic here: https://pa.audubon.org/news/seven-ways-bird-collisions-buildings-can-be-prevented.
Find downloadable images of birds and skyline here: Lights Out Philly Fall Migration Press Kit.
The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works
throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs,
nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people
each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation
organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Learn more
at www.audubon.org and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at
About Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
Founded in 1812, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University is a leading natural history museum
dedicated to understanding the natural world and inspiring everyone to care for it.