Kentucky Heirs, Jens and Freya are on a mission to save injured migratory birds in downtown Washington , DC.
Why do we need to protect our birds?
They keep the climate stable, oxygenate air and transform pollutants into nutrients. Birds play an important role in the effective functioning of these systems. As birds are high up in the food chain, they are also good indicators of the general state of our biodiversity.
Why it is important to help migratory birds:
Migratory birds provide ecosystem benefits that include pest control, pollination of plants and serve as food sources for other wildlife.
The feeding relationships among all the animals in an ecosystem help prevent any one species from becoming too numerous. Birds play a vital role in keeping this balance of nature.
Collisions with buildings kill more birds than any other single human factor besides habitat loss and domestic cats. In urban areas, the problem worsens during periods of migration. Most neo-tropical songbirds migrate at night to avoid turbulence in the air and they navigate by the stars. Passing over cities, they are often attracted to artificial lights and frequently strike transparent or reflective windows. The blow can be fatal or it can leave the birds injured and vulnerable to predators and street sweepers.
During migratory seasons, Lights Out DC volunteers walk a four-mile route in downtown Washington to inspect buildings and collect dead or injured migratory birds that have collided with glass. Injured birds are monitored and released (if recovered) or taken to City Wildlife’s rehabilitation center if their injuries are more severe. Dead birds are tagged and saved. The statistics are used to convince building owners and managers to adopt light abatement procedures for the sake of migrating birds.
Lights Out DC is patterned after highly successful lights-out programs in Chicago, Toronto, Boston, New York City, and Baltimore, to name a few. Our work has been featured in publications by the BBC, Washington Post, and Huffington Post.