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Experts, Birders: Turn Off Home Lights at Night During Migration Season


Wednesday, May 11, 2022   

Saturday is World Migratory Bird Day, and bird experts said it is a great time to be on the lookout for types of birds you may not see every day in your community.

Up to 300 species of birds have been identified in and around the Gulf of Maine during migration season, and this year's theme for the awareness day is the impact of light pollution on birds.

Nicholas Lund, advocacy and outreach manager for Maine Audubon, noted roughly one million birds die per day from running into glass. At night, the lights from within make glass invisible to birds, and during the day it reflects their habitat.

"Birds don't know what glass is," Lund explained. "They fly accidentally into windows when they are drawn in by lights, which also may disorient them as they're traveling or draw in the insects that they're trying to eat."

In addition to risks of collision, disorientation can cause birds to circle and deplete their energy resources, making them more vulnerable to predators.

Lund recommended turning out lights at night during migration, which is now through the first part of June, and then again in September and October. He said if you cannot keep your lights off, light fixtures can help, and you can treat the glass on your windows to make it more visible to birds.

Lund added while Saturday is the day selected to celebrate migratory birds, millions of birds are flying up to Maine every night from their wintering grounds in the south, looking for places to breed.

"The trees in your backyard are going to be full of colorful songbirds," Lund pointed out. "The shores and the mud flats will be full of shorebirds moving, the skies full with raptors. I mean, this is migratory bird month, for sure."

Lund emphasized for those who want some guidance, birders and experts are leading walks across the state - including at Fields Pond near Bangor on Saturday, as well as all this week and next at Evergreen Cemetery in Portland.

Also on Saturday, staff naturalist Doug Hitchcox will host a "Big Day," trying to find as many bird species as possible from Bangor to Kennebunkport.

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