Conservation Outdoors Sustainability

Lights Out! Asheville, for our Feathered Friends

BirdCast map showing migratory bird densities and movement between dusk and dawn

By Natasha Anderson

The Coalition for a Bird Friendly Asheville (CBFA) invites you to participate in Lights Out! Asheville, a program that can benefit birds and save energy and money through the implementation of measures that support the safety of resident and migratory birds. This includes a lights-out commitment during migration months and bird-safe window treatments.

“Asheville exists along a major migratory path for birds as part of the greater Atlantic Flyway,” says Danielle DiBella-Lenaway, CBFA co-founder and Blue Ridge Audubon Chapter board member. “Because birds use the moon and stars as their guides, artificial city lights confuse them and draw them away from the safety of this pathway, causing them to fatally collide with windows and cars and succumb to predators.”

Hundreds of bird species, many of which are declining in population, use this migratory route. It is estimated that on a peak migration night during spring or fall, more than 50,000 birds pass over Asheville every hour. Mayor Esther Manheimer recently signed a proclamation that designates March–May and September–November as “Migratory Bird Awareness Months,” and has entrusted Blue Ridge Audubon Chapter and the CBFA to create a Lights Out! program that is supported by the Asheville residential and business community.

“Through my undergraduate research project at UNCA, I determined that more than 1,000 collisions occurred at eight buildings on campus during a 15-week period,” says CBFA co-founder and Blue Ridge Audubon Chapter Lights Out! coordinator Paulina Jones. “This is a conservative estimate for a variety of reasons.”

To reduce the number of collisions, individuals and businesses can do the following:
· Turn off unnecessary indoor and outdoor lighting (especially near the tops of buildings).
· Put necessary lighting on timers or use motion
· Use warmer-temperature LED lighting in outdoor
· Make sure external lighting is down-shielded.
· Dim or extinguish lobby or atrium lighting.
· Close blinds or curtains at night to prevent light

It is particularly important to take these measures between the hours of midnight and sunrise (when most night migrants are flying) and during spring and fall migration periods (March–May and September–November). In addition to helping birds, these efforts have the additional benefits of reducing your energy usage, shrinking your carbon footprint and saving money.

Learn more and gain community recognition for your commitment to Lights Out! Asheville by signing the pledge at

1 Comment

  • Great article!
    For those who are interested in learning more about bird migration during the fall and spring, check out BirdCast (its a website with great tools for understanding migration). Just last night, an estimated 1.3 million birds crossed over Buncombe county between midnight and 6am.

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