Turning off the lights for a few nights could save millions of birds

The study from data on the unimaginable amount of birds that have died from collisions. Turning off the lights could save millions of birds.

It's probably happened to everyone: you're at home cooking or reading a book, and at some point you hear a thud against the glass. After having digested the fright, you approach the balcony to understand what could have happened. And there you may find yourself in front of a very sad scene: a bird that has hit its head and that, perhaps, will never get up again.

We often do not reflect enough on the numbers that such an event could generate if considered on a large scale. Figures that mean an added incentive to turn off the lights in rooms that aren't being inhabited. According to projections by the Field Museum in Chicago, in the United States, between 365 and 988 million birds die each year due to collisions with buildings. And that's in the U.S. alone.

How to Reduce the Risk of Collisions for Birds

Because of the absence of reflections and the opacity effect that fades into almost complete transparency, the danger of collisions is greatest at night. At risk are 92 species of the 1,000 or so protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, a defense protocol for the protection of migratory birds, which are particularly vulnerable to in-flight crashes as they move from place to place.

Analyzing data from the Chicago museum, scientists from the U.S. Academy of Sciences were able to show that migratory bird collisions against windows can be reduced by as much as 11 times simply by turning off the lights for a few nights. On a large scale, it is indeed a complex remedy. But, on an individual level, it can certainly help to dim rooms that aren't being used.

Experts' words

"Our research represents the best evidence yet that migratory birds are attracted to building lights, which often result in a collision with window panes and death," those are the words of Benjamin Van Doren, PhD candidate at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and first author of the research. "These insights," continued the expert, "were only possible because of more than 40 years of work by David Willard at the Field Museum, who tracked the 'collisions' by relating them to the degree of brightness of the buildings.

Protecting animals is an obligation, but often not as easy as turning off the light. The 15 elephants on the road in China are a case in point. Still on the subject of animals, here's why squids are about to be sent into space.

Giuseppe Giordano