PROTECTING BIRDS AND SAVING MONEY
During spring and fall migration, millions of birds pass through North Carolina, often flying at night and passing over urban centers on their way to their destination. Unfortunately, poor weather conditions (fog or rain) causes these birds to fly at lower elevations where they can be confused by building lights. As a result, the birds can become disoriented and collide with windows, resulting in serious injuries and death. Wake Audubon has documented more than 100 building associated bird deaths in downtown Raleigh over the last four migrations; the greatest number were found at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts.
Wake Audubon, a local chapter of more than 1,500 members, is partnering with Audubon NC on the Lights Out program to raise awareness of this issue in Raleigh. As a first step, Wake Audubon is reaching out to Raleigh to reduce lighting in city buildings in an effort to reduce bird deaths. Similar efforts are underway in Winston-Salem and Charlotte.
Research has shown that eliminating non-essential indoor and exterior building lighting between 11:00 PM and 6:00 AM during spring and fall migration can significantly reduce bird mortality. At the same time, significant savings on utility bills could be realized if the reduced late night lighting is extended to a year round practice.
Raleigh can become the first city in North Carolina to implement a Lights Out program for all city-owned buildings. Instituting a Lights Out policy for buildings owned by the City of Raleigh falls within the first two points of the Raleigh City Council mission:
Wake Audubon members stand ready to assist city staff with a public awareness campaign. With the City taking the first step, we believe that the managers of privately owned buildings will be more open to implementing similar efforts, resulting in even greater benefits. With City staff and Wake Audubon working together, Raleigh can serve as a model for other cities in North Carolina to develop a Lights Out Program.
… In general, managers commented that tenants were becoming increasingly aware of environmental issues, and were thus enthusiastic and receptive about participating in the Bird Friendly Building program as a positive “green” initiative. From the perspective of building managers, reduced light emission … was cited by many as being “a win-win situation”, since reduction in light emission resulted in reduced power consumption and ultimately decreased operating costs.
Full Report is available here: http://www.flap.org/pdfs/ELRCMB_BFB.pdf
Volunteers from Wake Audubon Society began surveying buildings in downtown Raleigh in Fall 2013. This citizen science project followed the National Audubon Society developed protocol for Lights Out programs. Data was collected daily beginning at 6:30 AM from, March to May and September to November in each of the following years:
Over 20 volunteers have walked in teams of two to conduct the Wake Audubon Lights Out surveys. Their passion for the importance of this issue is shown by their statements in Attachment B.
The Survey Protocol and Route Map are included as Attachment C.
Data was collected by building when birds were either found dead or stunned. In reviewing the data, it is clear the building where most dead birds were found is the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. Attachment D: Lights Out Data by Species & Location – 2013-15.
It is interesting to see the species that were most commonly found. Most are migratory birds with some coming to Raleigh as their breeding destination while others continue further north. Our native year-round birds, for the most part, seem to have adapted to living with buildings in an urban habitat. Common Yellowthroat, and three species of thrush, Gray-cheeked, Hermit and Wood Thrush were found in the largest numbers. Wood Thrush is a species of concern in North Carolina because of their decreasing numbers. Chimney Swifts, another bird found at several buildings, will be the Audubon NC “Bird of the Year” for 2016 due to their declining numbers.
Summary Report on the Bird Friendly Building Program:
Effect of Light Reduction on Collision of Migratory Birds.
Special Report for the Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP)
Lesley J. Evans Ogden
Ecological Research Consultant
Most migratory songbirds are nocturnal migrants, which makes them vulnerable to collision with lighted structures they encounter along their flight path during migration. The Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP) was formed by a group of concerned citizens to rescue and relocate disoriented birds trapped in the city centre, and to record the number and species of birds killed due to collision. Following the initiation of the Bird Friendly Building (BFB) Program by FLAP and World Wildlife Fund Canada in 1997, light emissions at 16 buildings in the downtown core of Toronto were also monitored during migration seasons. This report summarizes data on birds and light emissions collected from 1997 to spring 2001. This data provides evidence that:
A survey of building managers involved in the BFB program revealed that tenant education programs about bird collisions had increased awareness of the problem. Managers found that most tenants were willing to participate in the BFB, which they saw as a “green” initiative that had a positive environmental impact. Many buildings had installed or reprogrammed automated light systems that reduced the number of night-time hours that lights were left on. Several buildings that had limited success in reducing light levels between 1997 and fall 2001 have recently installed automated timer systems that should dramatically improve their light emission reductions in the future. In general, the BFB represents a win-win situation for property managers because reducing the period of time that lights are on not only reduces bird mortality but also results in substantial cost savings due to reduced energy consumption. An estimated $3.2 million could be saved if all of the 16 monitored buildings employed the nighttime light emission reductions already in place at several of the BFB sites. Such a reduction in power consumption would result in an estimated reduction of 38,400 tons of CO2-emissions from fossil-fuel burning energy sources. The BFB therefore contributes locally to a reduction in bird mortality, and globally to a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, thus reducing the production of greenhouse gases that lead to global climate change.
Full Report is available here: http://www.flap.org/pdfs/ELRCMB_BFB.pdf
I volunteered for Lights Out because …
Lights Out Raleigh
Wake Audubon Society
Bird-building collision monitoring and rescue protocols
Elaine McManus: Coordinator. [email protected], 919-341-4925
CLAWS, Inc.: Chapel Hill, rehabilitator for injured birds. 919-619-0776
Lena Gallitano can store dead birds if you are unable to 919-571-0388
Must-have supplies Other helpful gear
Flat-bottomed bag for supplies e.g. reusable grocery bag Camera (phone is fine)
Ziploc bags – warbler to woodcock size Flashlight
Data slips Field guide
Paper grocery bags & lunch bags Disposable gloves
Clothespins, binder or paper clips
Copy of federal permit & letter of authorization
Start your survey before 7 a.m. (preferably by 6:30) and include the following buildings. Parking is free on Fayetteville Street until 8:00 AM.
A map of the buildings and a walking route is available in a PDF document. The Green route begins in the front of Wells Fargo and goes south. Looping back, the Pink route will return you to your car. All of the buildings are indicated on the map.
click here to see the map: downtown map2
Always enter your data on GoogleDocs (even if you don’t find a bird):
Every time you survey downtown, go to this link and fill out the form. Negative data are very helpful in determining more accurate estimates of bird collisions. You do not have to have a gmail address to use the form. It’s easy, with drop-down menus. Be sure to bookmark the link.
When you find a dead bird:
1. Photograph the bird as it lies if you have a camera with you.
2. Put the bird in a Ziploc bag.
3. Fill out the data sheet in pencil and place it inside the bag: DATE, TIME, LOCATION, YOUR NAME, SPECIES (if you know it). In most cases the location will be the building name. We can add the exact street address later. Press the air out of the bag and seal it.
4. When you get home, put the bird in your freezer until you can get it to Lena Gallitano or the Science Museum (bird must be photographed before turning over to museum).
When you find an injured bird:
1. Approach the bird from behind or from the building. Capture it in a paper bag.
2. Make some very small air holes by tearing the edges of the bag. Fold over the top of the bag and close tightly with clothespins or paper clips.
3. Open the bag again only in a safe, vegetated location away from buildings. Birds that can fly may be released.
4. Birds that should go to rehab: those with visible injuries to the eye, head or wing, ones that can’t fly, or ones that are still lethargic (puffed up, with eyes closed) after several hours in the bag. Ones that are ready to go will be hopping around madly trying to get out.
Contact the rehabilitator, CLAWS, Inc. 919-619-0776 or [email protected] for details on how to proceed with an injured bird. CLAWS serves a very large area but someone will call you back as soon as possible if you leave a message. Telephone message is preferable.
Identification of birds found during monitoring 2013-2015: click on the link below.