FORT COLLINS, Colo. (April 1, 2022) – Governor Polis has proclaimed April 2022 as Lights Off for Bird Migration Month, effective today. "In the coming weeks, tens of millions of birds - from statuesque sandhill cranes to smaller meadowlarks and bluebirds - will pass through our state, marking a yearly pilgrimage that Coloradans have marveled at for generations. As we celebrate Bird Migration Month this April, the Polis-Primavera administration is proud to partner with Colorado's Audubon community to ensure that our magnificent bird populations continue to thrive, by preserving and protecting the precious natural resources these species depend on," said Lt. Governor Dianne Primavera.
While Coloradans celebrate the return of migratory birds, one key fact is often overlooked: most birds migrate nocturnally. “To avoid predators and take advantage of calmer air, 80 percent of migratory birds migrate at night,” said Zach Hutchinson, community science coordinator for Audubon Rockies.
Unfortunately, Colorado’s rapid development is causing the deaths of thousands to millions of these birds. According to Governor Polis’s proclamation, “During nocturnal migration, intense artificial lights can cause birds to collide with windows or walls, or cause them to circle in confusion, leaving them weak and vulnerable during their arduous journeys.”
Governor Polis proclaimed Lights Off for Bird Migration Month to raise awareness for this issue and its solutions. Fortunately, reducing light pollution is an easy action that every Coloradan can take to help birds migrate safely. “Because of the immense scale of development in Colorado, we need as many people as possible to help by turning off and shielding their lights,” said Richard O’Brien, International Dark-Sky Association Colorado chapter member.
A year ago, the Colorado chapter of the International Dark-Sky Association, Audubon Rockies, and Denver Audubon partnered to create Lights Out Colorado, a statewide awareness campaign. It encourages businesses and community members to turn off all non-essential outdoor lights to reduce light pollution. Doing so provides safer migration routes for birds. On the campaign’s website, Coloradans can take a pledge to help migratory birds, learn techniques for shielding lights, and find resources for contacting their local government and businesses. In celebration of spring migration, Lights Out Colorado is holding a free webinar about bird migration, featuring renowned Colorado State University scientist Kyle Horton.
“This April and May, millions of birds will fly to and through Colorado. The challenges they face from light pollution have been overlooked, but Governor Polis’s proclamation helps drive the action that the birds need,” said Karl Brummert, executive director of Denver Audubon. With it, Colorado joins a growing number of cities and states across the country that are trying to help birds migrate safely.
Audubon Rockies is the regional office of the National Audubon Society for Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah. The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon Rockies serves more than 37,000 members in Colorado. Learn more at rockies.audubon.org and by following us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @audubonrockies.
About the International Dark-sky Association
The Colorado chapter of the International Dark-sky Association (IDA) works to protect the night skies for present and future generations. Key activities of the IDA are education about light pollution, recommendations for outdoor lighting, the IDA Fixture Seal of Approval, and the Dark Sky Places program. The IDA teaches about light pollution in 51 countries on six continents. The IDA’s recommended best practices for outdoor lighting have become a standard worldwide. The IDA Fixture Seal of Approval has been awarded to over 1000 lighting fixtures. The IDA has officially recognized 133 International Dark Sky Places, including dark-sky communities, Urban Night Sky Places, dark-sky parks, dark-sky reserves, and dark-sky sanctuaries, ensuring ongoing conservation efforts in these special places. The Colorado chapter focuses on local efforts, including the conservation work of Colorado Dark Sky Places and supporting lighting ordinances in local governments throughout the state.
About Denver Audubon
Denver Audubon is an independent chapter of the National Audubon Society serving seven counties of the Denver metro area. The chapter’s mission is to inspire actions that protect birds, other wildlife, and their habitats through education, conservation, and research. Founded in 1969, Denver Audubon offers introductory to advanced educational programs on bird identification and conservation, including birding field trips, school programs, workshops, and year-long courses. The chapter helps individuals and organizations learn about and implement bird-friendly practices.