Apr 22, 2024 - News

Portlanders urged to turn off lights to aid bird migration

A street and tall residential buildings lit up at night through trees

The Portland City Council is calling for building owners to voluntarily dim their outdoor lights during this month's bird migration. Photo: Joseph Gallivan/Axios

As millions of birds are set to pass through Portland on their twice-yearly migration along the Pacific Flyway, local officials are asking residents to turn off their lights or point them down.

Why it matters: Urban light pollution interferes with animal sleep cycles and migration patterns, especially those of birds that use the moon and stars to navigate and are attracted to city lights instead.

  • North America's bird population has declined 30% since the 1970s.

Driving the news: The Portland City Council passed a proclamation last week, sponsored by the Bird Alliance of Oregon, that calls for darker skies through May 19, when the migration ends.

What they're saying: The city is asking Portlanders to turn off security lights and other exterior lights, Shuly Wasserstrom, the mayor's spokesperson, told Axios by email.

  • Participation is voluntary, but some city buildings participate in Lights Out Portland, including City Hall, the Portland Building, and several Portland Parks & Recreation community centers.

According to the bird alliance, the Pacific Flyway is one of four big migration routes and brings millions of birds into local airspace during migration.

Fun fact: Last month, Oregon became home to the world's largest dark sky sanctuary, 2.5 million acres southeast of Crater Lake.


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