Lights Out Colorado

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Lights Out Colorado is a voluntary program to help migratory birds. 

The National Audubon Society, the International Dark Sky Association, and Denver Audubon are partnering to promote the new program. 

Every year in North America, more than 3.5 billion birds move north in the spring and 4 billion birds fly south in the fall. More than 80 percent of them travel at night, navigating with the night sky. However, as they pass over big cities on their way they can become disoriented by bright artificial lights and skyglow, often causing them to collide with buildings or windows.

While lights can throw birds off their migration paths, bird deaths are more directly caused by the amount of energy the birds waste flying around and calling out in confusion. The exhaustion can then leave them vulnerable to other urban threats and deplete their energy needed for surviving migration and producing chicks in subsequent breeding seasons. 

Fortunately, the simple action of turning off lights can help birds navigate urban environments and protect them from unnecessary harm. The National Audubon Society, the International Dark-sky Association, and Denver Audubon have partnered to launch Lights Out Colorado, a new program that aims to help Coloradans save millions of birds as they take part in spring and fall migrations.

Lights Out Colorado provides two simple steps communities can make to have a big impact on birds: 

  • Shield outdoor lights to prevent light from being emitted upwards.  
  • Turn off lights by midnight during bird migration seasons (April-May and August-September).  

It is particularly important to take these measures as early in the evening as possible, as migrants begin their nocturnal migrations at dusk, during spring and fall migration periods. In addition to helping birds, these efforts have the additional benefits of reducing energy usage and saving money.

There are several common-sense exceptions to these guidelines. First, lighting activated by motion sensors can stay powered on. Second, businesses open late can keep their lights on until the business closes. Third, lighting needed for safety should stay on. Finally, local governments may choose from a variety of options for public lighting. Only lighting that is not needed should be shut off. 

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Further information

Frequently Asked Questions about Lights Out Colorado

Learn more.  Watch video presentations from local experts.  

Discover what governments might choose to do about public lighting. 

Explore some options for residential lighting. 

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