Organization works to reduce bird strikes to windows in Downtown Jacksonville

Organization works to reduce bird strikes to windows in Downtown Jacksonville

A group of volunteers will spend the migration season collecting dead birds around downtown Jacksonville.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — As the weather starts to warm up, many migrating species of birds will start the trek back up north.

A group of volunteers is working diligently to make sure they get to their destination.

The majority of migrating species will travel at night, and unfortunately, some of them crash into windows. Researchers think one simple change this time of year could make a huge difference for several endangered species.

“They’re intertwined with us because we all have to live together on this planet,” said Duval Audubon Society President Carole Bailey-White.

Spend five minutes at a park with Bailey-White and she’ll hear a sound and know exactly what kind of bird made it.

“Oh, there’s an Eastern Blue Bird. Wow. He’s beautiful.”

Her love of birds is what pushed Bailey-White to make an extra effort to protect the ones we have in Northeast Florida.

She helped start Lights Out, a team of volunteers researching the impact of large buildings with bright lights at night on migrating bird populations.

“When I first started doing it and came across my first dead bird, it was heartbreaking,” said Bailey-White. “I broke down into tears.”

Bailey-White says there are two peak migrating seasons a year, one starts in September, the other in March.

Lights Out volunteers go around downtown Jacksonville during the seasons picking up dead and injured birds.

“Any kind of light that shines brightly into the night sky is potentially an issue, so if people can just turn them off or draw the blinds, draw the curtains,” said Bailey-White.

This past fall, in the wake of Hurricanes Ian and Nicole, she says there were some particularly deadly days.

“I think we had 175 dead birds and maybe 30 live birds that ended up being taken to rehab,” said Bailey-White.

Lights Out will continue collecting data this Spring before working with downtown building managers and asking them to pledge to turn their lights off from 11 p.m. until 6 a.m. during migration seasons.

“Not only will you save money, but you could save many birds lives,” said Bailey-White.

She mentioned there’s also an effort to line downtown buildings with a bird-friendly material to make the windows less reflective.

The Duval Audubon Society has received word a high-profile development going up in downtown is currently considering including bird-friendly windows in its design.

Folks at home can help during migration season too, by drawing the blinds and making outdoor floodlights motion censored.

Volunteers will begin collecting injured and dead birds several days a week starting March 15, when migration season kicks off.

Those that don’t survive are logged and then sent to the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville for research.

Lights Out is seeking volunteers for spring. You can find more information here.