The best way to describe a twinkling big city lights during bird migration is “death trap”. We don’t know the exact reasons birds are attracted to the lights, but there are many theories and the death numbers are astounding.
Fortunately, many cities are aware of the problem and they are doing something about it. The Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP), a Canadian organization whose mission is to preserve the migratory birds in urban areas, was created in 1993 in Toronto. They also have an extensive rescue program to save birds during migration in the city.
Chicago was the first U.S. city to have a program to turn off exterior and decorative lights at night during migration. They started the Lights Out Program in the fall of 2000. New York City also partakes in a Lights Out program.
In the spring of 2005, the Wisconsin Humane Society came up with WIngs (Wisconsin Night Guardians for Songbirds). They are trying to get tall building owners to dim their lights during migration. We hope they are successful, because the cities that dim their lights have had an 80 percent reduction in bird fatalities.
Their research is critical in promoting and implementing more lights out programs throughout the world and is crucial to saving migratory birds.
I could not yet find a Lights Out program outside of North America. If anyone knows one, please let me know!