‘Lights Out Toronto’ Aims to Save Birds

The City of Toronto has launched a new campaign to prevent migratory bird collisions with building windows during the spring (April 1 to May 31) and fall (September 1 to October 31) migration seasons.

Millions of birds will travel through the city, but, like other urban areas, Toronto poses dangers to migratory birds. An estimated 25 million birds are killed each year across Canada due to collisions with building windows.

The “Lights Out Toronto” campaign encourages the public to turn off unnecessary lights – defined as lighting not intended for security or safety reasons – during the nighttime, to reduce fatal bird collisions with buildings. 

Toronto was the first city in North America to officially adopt migratory bird protection policies such as requirements for new development in the city that include bird friendly design for lighting features and glass in the Toronto Green Standard.

As part of the “Lights Out Toronto” campaign, Toronto residents and businesses are encouraged to:

-Turn off interior lighting at night, especially on higher floors.
-Close window coverings at night if lights must be kept on.
-Turn off exterior decorative lighting, pot lights and flood lights when not in use.
-Substitute strobe lighting and reduce atrium lighting whenever possible.
-Install automatic motion sensors and controls wherever possible.

Toronto City Council voted to resume the cost-saving and bird-life-saving practice of turning off unnecessary lights on City property during bird migration seasons.

All properties operated by City Divisions, Agencies and Corporations have been asked to follow the annual practice of turning off non-essential lights during the two bird migration periods. Non-essential lighting includes illumination not required for property standards or safety and security purposes. Exceptions for special events or critical operations are permitted.

In a release, The City explains that during their spring and fall migrations, birds are prone to colliding with buildings as they navigate through urban environments, often drawn by city lights and confused by reflections and transparency of glass, leading to fatal collisions. It is one of the top sources of human-caused bird mortality despite being easily preventable.



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