By Kelli Nesbitt, Parks & Recreation Marketing Coordinator
Birds are present in every environment — urban or rural, wetland or prairie — and serve as a constant reminder of the nature around us.
Twice a year, billions of birds migrate thousands of miles between their breeding grounds and winter habitats. In North America, about 70 percent of bird species migrate, with 80 percent traveling at night, using the sky to navigate.
Texas is a crucial stopover along the Central Flyway Migration Corridor, allowing us to witness nearly two billion birds migrating through the state – up to a third of all migrating birds in the United States. As a result, College Station has become a favorite destination for avian enthusiasts each fall and spring.
However, the awe-inspiring phenomenon of nocturnal migrations faces an under-recognized threat – light pollution. Artificial lights attract and disorient migrating birds, leaving them confused and vulnerable to collisions with buildings and other hazards. According to Lights Out Texas, more than one billion birds perish annually from building collisions.
Beyond their enchanting presence, birds are essential pollinators and seed dispersers in natural ecosystems. Their well-being directly influences our own, and they contribute significantly to our economy through ecotourism and related activities.
Recognizing the value of preserving the delicate balance of the natural world and demonstrating a commitment to wildlife protection, the City of College Station has embraced a Lights Out Nights program during migration seasons. The straightforward, impactful approach involves turning off non-essential lighting from 11 p.m.-6 a.m. during the fall (Aug. 15-Nov. 30) and spring (March 1-June 15) migration periods.
Of course, safety and security are always paramount, but motion sensors, shielded fixtures, or lower-intensity lights can minimize the impact. In addition, streetlights and certain public facilities are considered essential and would not be affected by the initiative.
The initiative aims to substantially reduce hazards to migrating birds and ensure their safe passage without unnecessary obstacles. Our program aligns with Lights Out Texas, a statewide campaign driven by a coalition of non-profits, universities, governmental organizations, and dedicated Texans united to preserve bird populations.
Mayor John Nichols officially proclaimed the spring and fall migrations as “Light Out Nights” in College Station at the Aug. 10 city council meeting (pictured below). His declaration underscores the city’s commitment to environmental stewardship and protecting the invaluable migratory birds gracing our skies.
The initiative is championed by volunteers from the Conservation Advisory Group, including Texas A&M Biodiversity Research and Teaching Collections, Rio Brazos Audubon Society, Brazos Valley Texas Master Naturalists, Post Oak Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas, College Station Parks & Recreation Department, College Station Public Works Department, Southside Historic Community, Texas A&M Forest Service, and current students and faculty of Texas A&M University.
About the Blogger
Kelli Nesbitt has served the Parks & Recreation Department for 18 years, the last decade as marketing coordinator. A native of Bryan, she earned a bachelor’s degree in health & kinesiology from Sam Houston State.
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