Last night, from 8:00 PM through 6:30 AM CDT this morning 1,753,900 birds crossed Pettis County. In Johnson County, that number was 2,383,700. And there's something we can all do to help the birds migrate through the night sky over our homes.

In our area right now, the migration of birds primarily seems to be coming up from Texas, Louisiana, and the Gulf Coast through Oklahoma and Kansas through Missouri on their way to Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan. This is according to Bird Cast Info.

One of the easiest things we can all do to help birds that engage in nighttime migration from their wintering grounds to their nesting grounds is to turn out any exterior lights that we absolutely don't need to have on.

According to the Dark Sky website:

Artificial light at night (ALAN) can disrupt bird migration in a variety of ways, including disorienting birds from their routes and causing collisions with buildings, resulting in millions of bird fatalities each year.

Birds colliding with buildings is more of a city thing than a country thing. For example, The National Parks Service turns out the lights of the Gateway Arch every spring and fall during peak bird migration periods. Last spring, the Arch was dark from May 1 to May 14. And I'd expect them to do something like that again this year.

And a group called Lights Out Heartland and the Audubon Society work with different groups in Kansas City and St. Louis to reduce light pollution during the times of bird migration.

While the birds might have bigger problems with city lights there are things we can all do at home to help the birds, and limit the light pollution we contribute to. According to the Dark Sky website:

  • All lighting at home should serve a purpose, and how the light will impact wildlife.
  • Direct light only where it's needed, and point it downward, not skyward.
  • Use the lowest light level possible.
  • And only use lights when necessary. Consider motion sensors, dimmers, and timers to control when your lights are being used.
  • And use warmer light colors when possible, avoid the blue-violet light as much as possible.

And don't forget to go outside at night and look up, when it's dark. Living "in the country" as many of us do, there's much less light pollution than in the city or suburbs. And there's just something wonderful and beautiful about looking up at a dark sky after your eyes adjust. The birds will thank you too.

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