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‘Lights Out’ Program Helps Minnesota’s Migratory Birds

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(credit: CBS) Lauren Casey
Lauren Casey joined the WCCO-TV weather team in August 2011, a...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The change in season brings the return of Minnesota’s migratory birds, but our summer-time citizens face a threat posed by the tall buildings in downtown Minneapolis.

An initiative named ‘Lights Out’ is an effort to ensure a safe flight path for these birds that migrate at night.

Mark Martell, director of bird conservation at Minnesota Audobon, said ‘Lights Out’ is an effort to get tall buildings to turn their lights out during bird migration period, which in the spring runs from mid-March to the end of May, and again in fall from mid-August to the end of October.

Mark said the birds at risk are smaller species that fly at night and use stars to navigate, including warblers, sparrows and hummingbirds. The lights of tall buildings can confuse the birds.

James Durda of the Inland American Office Management, located in the IDS Center in downtown Minneapolis, said that building lights can distract the birds from their intended path. That can result in injury or death from exhaustion or due to impact with the building itself.

To avoid interfering with the migration, the 120 crown lights of the IDS Center remain off through the spring. A lighting control system performs a scheduled shut down of interior lights each night.

Buildings in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Bloomington and Rochester participate in the program. The ‘Lights Out’ programs are also conducted in other major U.S. cities including Chicago and New York City.

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