Petition calls on Galveston officials to adopt ordinance to help birds during migration
Bird migration deaths have people taking action, Steven Romo reports.
By Steven Romo
Thursday, June 01, 2017 11:13PM
GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A petition is gaining steam calling on the city of Galveston to adopt an ordinance requiring buildings to keep their lights off to help birds survive migration.
In May, nearly 400 birds were found dead outside the American National Insurance building. Richards Gibbons, Houston Audubon conservation director, said they were likely disoriented by the building's lights, though that concentration of birds is highly unusual.
"Many people don't know. There are hundreds of thousands some nights, passing over while we're asleep, especially in April," Gibbons said.
He said hundreds of bird species migrate at night and rough weather can force them closer to the ground.
"When that happens, they run into obstacles," Gibbons said.
The incident last month was extreme, with 395 songbirds of different types found dead at One Moody Plaza.
Hundreds of dead birds discovered in Galveston
The migratory birds were found after they flew into the American National building.
Gibbons said a possible, partial solution is turning off bright building lights above 50 feet, because they interfere with birds' navigation.
"It is counter-intuitive, but birds, because of their instinctual wiring, are attracted to light during their nighttime migrations," he said.
More than 25,000 people agree that buildings should shut out the lights to help birds, signing a petition to make it a city ordinance.
A city representative said that's not likely to happen. The American National Insurance building is voluntarily turning its lights off and the city believes its the only building that poses a risk to birds.
Still, Gibbons said it's encouraging to see so many concerned about wildlife.
"I think it sends a signal to our business leaders that we'd like communities that are friendlier to wildlife," he said.
Galveston, Texas: No More Crash landings for America's Songbirds
- by: Andrew M
- target: James D. Yarbrough, Mayor of Galveston
Experts believe strong winds could have blown the birds of their normal migratory course and the bright lights of the tall building were mistaken for moonlight or the sun, luring them to a tragic end.
The easiest and most responsible way to ensure tragedies like these don't happen again are to require office buildings to turn off their lights at night especially during migration season. This method is both effective and saves energy.
I believe it's time that cities like Galveston that lie in the flight path of migratory birds, take their well-being into consideration and take measures to ensure these birds make it to their nesting grounds so we can all enjoy their beautiful colors and songs.
Join me and ask James D. Yarbrough, Mayor of Galveston, TX to require buildings in Galveston to turn off their lights
during migratory bird season.
Dear Mayor Yarbrough;
In light of news of the 400 songbirds that crashed into Galveston's tallest building and died I would ask you and your city to take action to make sure nothing like this happens again.
Experts say there is a relatively easy and harmless remedy - requiring tall buildings to turn off their lights during migratory bird season. Please make the responsible choice and pass an ordenance in Galveston to do just that, setting an example for other city governments that lie in our migratory birds' flight paths. It's simple, easy, good for wildlife and the environment and can make a big difference. [Your comments here]