Lights Out Northern Virginia

Every year, billions of birds migrate during the spring and fall seasons. They frequently fly at night with the natural light in the sky helping them to navigate their way. In Northern Virginia and surrounding areas, peak migration begins in April through May, and again in September through October.

Window collisions are a leading cause of birth deaths, with an estimated one billion birds dying every year. The majority of these deaths are said to occur in the fall during the annual migration period to their wintering grounds. Since birds have spent the summer raising their broods, the overall bird population is higher. More birds equate to more collisions. In addition, these younger birds are migrating for the first time and do not have the experience that older birds have.

During the daytime, the windows of high rise buildings reflect the foliage of trees and sky, and birds do not recognize the glass as an obstacle they cannot fly through. During the night time, commercial buildings and residential homes that display lights confuse migrating birds, drawing them away from the sky’s natural lighting and down into cities, causing collisions.

As wildlife rehabilitators, we have the unique ability to not only rehabilitate birds that have been injured during window collisions, but to help prevent these injuries before they occur.

The goals of Wildlife Rescue League’s (WRL) Lights Out Northern Virginia program are two-fold: To collect and present the data regarding bird collision deaths in Northern Virginia to building managers and homeowners in an effort to encourage the reduction of nighttime lighting; and to encourage legislative bodies to enact laws that will protect birds by requiring developers to utilize bird safe products in the development and building of high-rises.

WRL is conducting research regarding the volume of bird window collisions in Northern Virginia by visiting specific highrise buildings several days a week during peak migration seasons and identifying birds that have suffered collisions. This data will be used to help us achieve the goals of the program.

How you can help our migrating birds this season

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Turn lights off at night

Encourage retail and office buildings in your neighborhood as well as your neighbors to turn their lights off at night.

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Install bird friendly window decals

Install bird friendly window decals and other screening on your windows to help prevent collisions during the day.

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Complete our volunteer survey

If you’d like to provide hands-on help with WRL’s Lights Out Northern Virginia program, please complete our volunteer survey here.

Wildlife Rescue League - Viriginia
Wildlife Helpline 703-440-0800