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Dim the Lights, Save the Flights: How You Can Help
By Marcee Silver
Posted: 2024-03-01T14:30:00Z

Want to know one simple thing YOU can DO to benefit our natural world?


Help migrating birds by turning off your outside lights. From March 15 to May 31, the peak of spring migration, turn off outside lighting between 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. Or dim the lights. Or replace them with motion-sensor lights. Or use warm-colored amber or orange bulbs, which are less likely to trigger a behavioral response. Or all of the above.

What is light pollution? It is excessive artificial light used outdoors. Excessive or poorly designed lighting like residential lights, streetlights, commercial buildings, stadiums can have negative consequences.


Why turn off my lights? Most migrating birds navigate at night using the stars and earth's magnetic fields, but our profusion of bright artificial lights causes them to become confused and disoriented, leading to exhaustion, increased vulnerability to predators, and fatal collisions with windows. 

Raleigh was the first city in NC to establish a Lights Out Policy for all municipal buildings. Some commercial buildings have joined the efforts, which you can observe by noticing that some downtown Raleigh buildings are not brightly lit. Turns out, turning out the lights at night is no small financial savings, so some commercial establishments have adopted a year-round lights out policy, reducing light pollution year-round. 

Peak fall migration is September 10th to November 30th, “By applying these practices throughout the year, you can have an immediate impact on the environment around you. Not only will you be helping preserve the natural cycles that are so important to people, birds, and other wildlife, you will also save more money through lower energy consumption!” says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

How can I learn more?  Visit the Wake Audubon website to learn more about Lights Out Wake.

Attend a Wake Audubon monthly meeting to learn more about birds through their monthly meetings, field trips, bird walks and other activities. Meetings, open to the public, are held the second Tuesday of every month at 7:30p.m. at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences at 11 W. Jones Street, downtown Raleigh.

Download the Birdcast app, which shows approximately how many birds are migrating on a given night. The app uses weather radar to both detect birds in flight and also predict upcoming nocturnal bird migration. Just type in your state and find data and helpful maps.

Check out the International Dark Sky Association, or IDA, for lots of resources and tools, as well as information on the upcoming Dark Sky Week, which is April 2nd-8th, 2024.

How can I take action? Take the “Lights Out Pledge” as a residents or a corporate building, and tell Wake Audubon and your community leaders that you support efforts to protect migrating birds, reduce nighttime light pollution, and advocate for our environment.

How can I join the cause? Environmental protections create healthy communities that can participate in Democracy, which keeps our politicians accountable for the environment, and protects our community and planet from environmental degradation. A healthy environment impacts our economy and prosperity. Join our Environment Committee in protecting both democracy and the earth. Members explore issues related to animal and plant health, water quality, sustainability, transit, and open space. Visit our website, or contact for information on joining the committee.