Bird Migration: Audubon NC wants Uptown Charlotte to dim the lights

Nation and World News

CHARLOTTE (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) — A spokesperson for the Audubon Society says nationwide one billion birds die each year from building collisions.

The scene looked like a movie, but hundreds of birds fell from the sky in 2019 as they crashed into the NASCAR Hall of Fame building.

“It was a freak accident,” said Kim Brand, engagement director for Audubon North Carolina. “It was crazy. That was not a bird that our volunteers had ever found.”

For the last six years, Audubon Society offices across North Carolina have been working on the Lights Out North Carolina program. The goal is to get businesses in Uptown Charlotte to turn off decorative lights and lights facing skyward because they distract birds migrating south.

Migration season is September to October, and then again from April to May.

“Mecklenburg Audubon Society volunteers have documented 70 species of birds,” added Brand. “Especially songbirds that have died, just from building collisions, just there in Uptown Charlotte.”

In the fall months from 2012 to 2018, the Mecklenburg Audubon Society monitored collisions. In the 385 days of tracking, 586 birds died.

“Mostly warblers, four to five inches long,” said Brand.

The birds that don’t die end up at the Carolina Waterfowl Rescue, in Indian Land, North Carolina.

“We generally get a couple hundred, and we try to track them,” said Jennifer Gordon, executive director, with Carolina Waterfowl Rescue.

Many of the birds that survive have shoulder injuries. At any given time, the rescue will get 50 to 60 birds at once. Currently, they only have two birds, but the migration season is far from over. So, getting the word out through programs like Lights Out North Carolina is a good thing.

“We support those programs and I love seeing that,” added Gordon. “We help as much as we can to try and promote that and get people interested in it because us treating them is a band-aid on a wound, and that’s the source of the wound.”

A wound that can heal, and more birds saved by a flip of the switch.

“Charlotte is proud of beautiful skyline,” says Brand. “But I think it is really encouraging that even the Duke Energy center, one of the most iconic buildings in this Charlotte skyline has been turning out lights at midnight for birds.”

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