Good news for birds today!
On October 8th I reported how migrating birds are fatally attracted to artificial lights and how Pitt’s new Victory Lights trapped birds in its blue beams. Within 24 hours the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania (ASWP) and the University of Pittsburgh began collaborating on a solution. Here’s the good news from Pitt this week:
Just want you to know that we’ve worked on the Victory Lights issue in conjunction with the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania. During migration season, the light — which is only on after Pitt football victories and championship victories by other Panthers teams — will be cycled on for 45 minutes and off for 15 every hour. We’re really glad to have been made aware of this situation. Thank you.— Joe Miksch, Dir. of Media Relations, Univ of Pittsburgh, 22 Oct 2018
The photos above simulate the effect: Left side is 45 minutes on, right is 15 minutes off.
The solution is based on studies done at the 9/11 Tribute of Light in New York where 88 beams light the sky once a year.
Every September New York Audubon mobilizes volunteers to watch the 9/11 Tribute for trapped birds. When volunteers count 1,000 birds circling in the beams or if a bird is found dead, the lights are turned off for 20 minutes. Radar shows that after only 10 minutes of darkness trapped birds have left the 9/11 Tribute and are flying south toward Governor’s Island. The Tribute is kept dark for 20 minutes for good measure.
The “45 minutes on, 15 minutes off” solution takes advantage of Pitt’s computerized light system and the unscheduled nature of the Victory Lights display. Every hour during migration — whether birds are trapped or not — the blue beams will cycle. After 15 minutes of darkness, any birds that are trapped at Pitt will probably be flying over Schenley Park, headed for Hays Woods.
This solution is just the beginning. Pitt and ASWP will continue to monitor the situation during migration and tweak the timing if necessary.
Kudos to the University of Pittsburgh and Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania for collaborating and handling the issue so quickly. Special thanks to Pitt for setting such a great example for building owners. Thank you, Pitt and ASWP!
If Pitt beats Duke this Saturday, October 27, the blue lights will cycle every hour. Go Pitt!
(photo simulation by Kate St. John)
(*) Special thanks to Jim Bonner Executive Director of ASWP and Chancellor Gallagher at the University of Pittsburgh and to everyone behind the scenes who made this good news possible. Thank you!