San Francisco Department of the Environment

Lights Out for Birds

Save birds’ lives during spring and fall migration.

Turn out lights, draw blinds, or use task lighting.

Over 200 species of birds pass through the Bay Area during migration, which runs from February 15 to the end of May in the Spring and from August 15 through November 30 in the Fall. Many birds navigate at night by the stars and can be confused by urban lights. Drawn off course by brightly-lit buildings, they often die from window collisions or circle buildings until exhausted.

A study by the Field Museum in Chicago found that turning off the lights at one downtown high-rise reduced migratory bird deaths there by 80 percent.

Lights Out for People

Turning off building lights at night is good for people and the planet as well as birds. By saving electricity, we cut the cost of doing business, and by reducing energy use, we help cut greenhouse gas emissions.

What You Can Do

Turn off building lights from dusk until dawn.This includes internal lighting, external decorative lights and lobby or atrium lights (Security lights should be left on as needed for safety).

Install timers and motion detectors to minimize use of lights at night. PG&E offers rebates of $5 to $50 for each new occupancy sensor you install, and rebates of $15 for each indoor timer.

Working at night? Draw the blinds or use task lighting.

Add the name of your business to the list of companies participating in Lights Out for Birds. This will help us promote and track the impact of Lights Out.

Spread the word! Post flyers in your building and let people know about Lights Out in employee newsletters and social media.

Learn about the Standards for Bird Safe Buildings and the San Francisco Planning Department's new Residential Bird Monitoring and Certification Program. And, finally, read this brochure about trimming trees for healthy birds and healthy trees!


Additional Resources

Lights Out for Birds en Español (Al Despertar/Golden Gate Audobon Society)