Bird-Safe Lighting

By Joshua Baker

Who doesn’t love to listen to songbirds? Flying through the city at certain times of the year, birds are a beautiful reminder of the nature that surrounds us, even in the city. If you want to keep seeing songbirds, then be sure to pick lighting that is safe for them!

Each year, thousands of songbirds migrate along the Pacific Flyway, through Portland, using the stars as their guide. However, exterior lighting can confuse birds, and many get lost and die from exhaustion. Others smash into windows when interior lighting is left on at night and visible through a window. The most important features for bird safety are color temperature, intensity, and directionality.

  • Lighting that appears more cool and blue looks a lot like the stars. The easiest way to control this is to select night-time lighting that is below 2700k. This is also better for human health, as more blue lights have been shown to have the potential to disrupt our circadian rhythm. It used to be the case that LEDs were more energy efficient in the range of 4000k, but within the last ten years that has changed and LEDs are now equally efficient across the range of color output.
  • Extremely bright lights are also a problem for birds and cause glare for people, so lights should have the appropriate intensity should be designed to provide good visibility, without causing your eye to need to adjust drastically once you leave the lit area.
  • Lighting should also have good shielding so lights are pointed down and not up – we don’t need to light up the sky in order to find our way at night! This is also a smart choice for reducing light pollution and having a chance of seeing the stars.

Switching to LED lighting is a smart choice to save energy and thankfully, with a wide range of color, intensity and good directionality, can make it easy to pick quality lighting that is safe for birds (and better for people too!)

Learn more about and contact Lloyd EcoDistrict’s LED Advantage Member (LAMP) team to find out if now is a good time to complete a lighting upgrade at your building.

Additionally, take the Portland Audobon’s pledge to go Lights Out for birds, other wildlife and human health.