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Delaware Bird Group Says ''Lights Out Wilmington!''

This poor little fella, a golden-crowned kinglet, sits stunned on the sidewalk after flying into the windows of a high rise. David Sibley of the Delmarva Ornithological Society estimates 45 million to 1 billion birds die each year worldwide die from hitting tall buildings. Photo: Delmarva Ornithological Society

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In this issue we're showing off great looking urban lighting that makes the night environment easier and safer to navigate. For people, that is. Birds, however, are another matter.

Between 2002 and 2004, Joe and Ellen Sebastiani kept track of the dead bird species found on the sidewalk of a building in downtown Wilmington, Del. Joe has worked for the Delaware Nature Society since 1998. The couple's report lists dozens of dead bird species, including yellow-bellied sapsuckers, golden-crowned kinglets, ruby-throated hummingbirds, and, of course, the common pigeon.

Those findings have promoted the Delmarva Ornithological Society of Greenville, Del. to launch ''Lights Out Wilmington!'' The initiative seeks to get high-rise building owners and tenants to turn off the exterior and interior lighting from 10 p.m. to dawn during the spring and fall when birds migrate. The peak of migration in Delaware is between March 17 and June 7 and Aug. 20 to Oct. 25.

The program is being supported by an $11,200 grant from Delaware's Greenhouse Gas Reduction Projects Grant Program. Chicago and New York City already have voluntary programs aimed at getting building owners and tenants to go dark after hours.

Bill Stewart, conservation chair for the society, said the alternative is for those offices to close the blinds. He notes that migrating birds are attracted to light because they navigate by the stars and the moon. They also typically migrate at night to take advantage of smoother air currents that make flying less work, and to avoid daytime predators.

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November 18, 2019, 11:02 am PDT

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