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In 2022, the impact of light pollution is the focus of World Migratory Bird Day, an annual global campaign that celebrates the migration of birds across countries and continents. Throughout the year, the organizers will pass on the message to “dim the lights for birds at night” and highlight actions that individuals, communities and governments can take to reduce the impact of light pollution on birds.
Traditionally observed on the second Saturdays of May and October, World Migratory Bird Day is actually a year-long celebration that involves hundreds of organizations.
Eleven species have been selected to serve as ambassadors for this year’s theme. They include both short- and long-distance migrants crossing the Americas. As a group, they represent the diversity of birds and the variety of ways birds are affected by light pollution. The poster above, by artist Omar Custodio Azabache, shows all 11 species. Clockwise from top right they are:
Black-crowned Night Heron, Western Tanager, Swainson’s Thrush, Lesser Yellowlegs, Black-billed Cuckoo (which breeds in temperate regions of South America), Baltimore Oriole, Burrowing Owl, Ruddy, Duck, Wilson, Markham’s Petrel (which occurs mainly off the Pacific coast of South America) and the Magnolia Warbler.
To find World Migratory Bird Day events and activities, visit worldmigratorybirdday.org/events-map. If no event is scheduled in your area, you can create your own. Activities range from birdwatching walks to painting contests. Register at worldmigratory-birdday.org/register-your-event.
5 easy ways to help birds at night
Reduce the amount of light outside your home or workplace. Turn off all non-essential nighttime lights. For essential lights, use timers or motion sensors to minimize usage. And always use the minimum power necessary for the task at hand. (It also saves energy and money!)
Change the color of your lights from cool to warm. Studies suggest that green and blue light attract more birds than red, orange or yellow light. Use bulbs that emit warm light to minimize disturbance to birds. (The color of light is measured in kelvins – the lower the number, the warmer the light.)
Direct all lights downward. Place lights to illuminate the ground or floor and use light shields to avoid shining into the sky.
Advocate for bird-friendly lighting in your city. Consider working with your local government to create a lighting ordinance in your community or to enforce or improve existing guidelines.
Become a community scientist. Measure the brightness of your night sky and submit your observations to the Globe at Night program at globeatnight.org.
2022 Artist: Omar Custodio Azabache
At the heart of World Migratory Bird Day is the artwork that reflects its annual conservation theme. Each year, artists from around the world submit their work to a panel of reviewers, and one artist is selected. Omar Custodio Azabache has been chosen to create this year’s campaign art. Omar holds a degree in Biology from Pedro Ruiz Gallo National University in Peru. He has experience in taxonomy and conservation biology with a strong focus on ornithology. Omar has been an associate researcher at the Center for Ornithology and Biodiversity (CORBIDI) since 2012. He also leads an urban bird ecology project called Aves Urbanas de Lima, which reconnects people with nature through birds, and is the co-founder of Playeras del Perú, which works to protect shorebirds and their habitats across the country. Omar has worked as a science illustrator for almost a decade and has been featured in magazines, books, field guides and other publications. See more of Omar’s art on his Instagram, @omarcustodioart.
Lights Out Programs in North America