help 'em out

Houston goes lights out across the city to help fine feathered friends

Houston goes lights out across the city to help fine feathered friends

lights out houston
Migrating birds need Houstonians' help. Photo by Berri Moffett

Environmentally minded locals, take note: birds need your help.

Millions of our winged friends will migrate through the Bayou City and the Gulf Coast in the coming weeks, prompting “Lights Out Nights,” which run now through May 7 — by order of Mayor Sylvester Turner.

As the name implies, Lights Out Nights aims to help traveling birds by encouraging Houstonians to switch off non-essential exterior lights from 11 am to 6 pm nightly during peak migration season. As most North American birds travel at night, the lights can disorient them and cause fatal collisions with buildings.

How dangerous is H-Town? In a 2019 study, Houston was found to be the second most dangerous city in the country for migrating birds. That’s due to the intersection of the city’s high light output and the vast numbers of migratory birds that pass over the city, a press release notes.

Though “Lights Out Nights” runs through May 7 in Houston, it’s suggested that residents turn off lights out nightly until migration in Texas ends June 15, if possible.

Lights Out Texas is now a statewide initiative that started in Houston to raise awareness of bird migration. The movement is led by a partnership of nonprofits including Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Houston Audubon, Texas Conservation Alliance, Dallas Zoo, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Texan by Nature, and more.

“Along with being beautiful, birds are important to our ecosystem,” said Turner in a statement. “I encourage everyone to do their part to protect the large number that will be migrating and flying across Texas. The city of Houston will turn off the lights of City Hall during the designated hours, and I hope businesses and residents will follow our example.”

For more information on the Lights Out movement, visit the official site.

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