The voluntary measure has been coordinated by “Bird Safe Philly” and continues until May 30 with the purpose of sparing the lives of some of the 100 million birds passing over the City of Brotherly Love on their semiannual migrations.
To some, it might seem more intuitive to leave the lights on to help birds steer clear of buildings, but Robert Peck, a senior fellow at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, explains most migrating fowl navigate by light; the sun, the moon and the stars.
Fog and rain, which are quite common in spring and autumn, force birds to fly at lower altitudes. When they see the bright city lights, they are often dazzled, disoriented and confused.
“Suddenly they have all these lights coming at them from different directions. It’s overwhelming,” Peck said. “They get turned around and they will fly into buildings and walls.”
The Philadelphia buildings participating in these efforts have agreed to switch unnecessary lights off from 12:01 a.m. to 6 a.m., especially on higher floors, dimming lights in lobbies and atriums.
“The ground was sprinkled with dead and dying birds,” he said.
“It’s a tough trip for the birds either way so the last thing they need to do is encounter brightly lit buildings,” notes Peck.