Philadelphia ‘Lights Out Pledge’ Seeks To Prevent Bird Deaths

Migratory birds are often lured away from their normal paths by the bright lights of cities, with deadly results.

1 minute read

March 19, 2023, 7:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Aerial Philadelphia cityscape by night with the City Hall tower in the foreground and Ben Franklin bridge spanning Delaware river in the back

Mihai_Andritoiu / Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Roughly 100 Philadelphia buildings have signed on to a ‘lights out pledge’ aimed at preventing migratory birds from deviating from their migration paths and striking buildings, reports Bridget Reed Morawski in Next City. The Lights Out Philly program was developed over decades by Keith Russell and Audubon Mid-Atlantic, who tried to draw attention to the issue but had little luck until a massively publicized bird strike event in 2020.

“While light pollution initially draws birds into the city, it’s the combined effect of an abundance of lights and the resulting glare of windows and other reflective glasses that makes it hard to safely navigate — if those surfaces haven’t been modified with bird deterrent films or treatments, that is,” the article explains. “To help reduce migratory bird strikes and deaths, programs in Pittsburgh, Houston and Greensboro, N.C., and other cities across the country have focused on light pollution to encourage residents, businesses and municipalities to shut off their lights during late-night hours during typical spring and fall migration periods.”

These programs seem to have a powerful effect. “According to a 2021 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “decreasing lighted window area [to minimum levels historically recorded] could reduce bird mortality by ∼60%” at a large Chicago building.” 

Thursday, March 16, 2023 in Next City

Large blank mall building with only two cars in large parking lot.

Pennsylvania Mall Conversion Bill Passes House

If passed, the bill would promote the adaptive reuse of defunct commercial buildings.

April 18, 2024 - Central Penn Business Journal

Rendering of wildlife crossing over 101 freeway in Los Angeles County.

World's Largest Wildlife Overpass In the Works in Los Angeles County

Caltrans will soon close half of the 101 Freeway in order to continue construction of the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing near Agoura Hills in Los Angeles County.

April 15, 2024 - LAist

Workers putting down asphalt on road.

U.S. Supreme Court: California's Impact Fees May Violate Takings Clause

A California property owner took El Dorado County to state court after paying a traffic impact fee he felt was exorbitant. He lost in trial court, appellate court, and the California Supreme Court denied review. Then the U.S. Supreme Court acted.

April 18, 2024 - Los Angeles Times

Aeriel view of white sheep grazing on green grass between rows of solar panels.

Coming Soon to Ohio: The Largest Agrivoltaic Farm in the US

The ambitious 6,000-acre project will combine an 800-watt solar farm with crop and livestock production.

18 minutes ago - Columbus Dispatch

Pedestrians crossing a busy crosswalk on New York City street with tall buildings in background

New York’s Deadliest Neighborhoods for Pedestrians

Pedestrian deaths rose last year, but remain below pre-2020 levels.

1 hour ago - PIX 11

View of downtown Seattle with Space Needle and mountains in background

Eviction Looms for Low-Income Tenants as Rent Debt Rises

Nonprofit housing operators across the country face almost $10 billion in rent debt.

April 23 - The Seattle Times

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.