Lights Out Tool Kit
Lights Out is a partnership between four critical partners: city government, a professional organization, Audubon and other birding organizations, and a research institution. Those wishing to replicate the program in their city would do well to form a similar partnership. Although the program is voluntary, the contributions of each of the partners have ensured that compliance is virtually 100%.
Partners and Roles in Lights Out Chicago:
Audubon chairs the Lights Out committee, coordinates updating of the guidelines, and plans recognition efforts. The Field Museum provides research used to set guidelines. Twice a year, the Building Owners and Managers Association of Chicago sends an e-mail reminding the buildings that the Lights Out period is approaching. As migration begins, the Chicago Bird Collision Monitors keep an eye on the lights during their pre-dawn rounds, so that reminders can be sent if needed. The Chicago Department of the Environment supports the effort as needed; for example, in the first years of the program, they arranged for faxes from the mayor to be sent to each building promoting the program; last year they arranged for a mayoral Proclamation honoring the buildings.
Audubon, the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) and the Chicago Department of the Environment can help to facilitate connections with the appropriate organizations in other cites. If you are starting a Lights Out program and would like to find local partners, here's who to contact:
- Your Audubon Chapter or state office can help identify local birding and conservation organizations.
- Identify a partner to provide research you can use to develop appropriate date guidelines based on the timing of migration in your area. (Natural History Museum or University ornithologists, US Fish and Wildlife Service offices, or Audubon IBA Coordinators are just some examples of possible partners)
- When you have developed research based guidelines, seek a partnership with city government and your local BOMA.
- A copy of Chicago's mayoral proclamation may be enough to convince your local government that it would be beneficial to be involved. If not. the Chicago Department of the Environment can help you to make a local government contact.
- A BOMA International representative can put you in touch with a local BOMA organization
Occasionally, despite the best intentions, buildings can remain lit, for reasons such as normal staff turnover. It is helpful to have someone watching the buildings to get a sense of compliance with the program and to provide reminders when necessary. In Chicago, the Chicago Bird Collision Monitors spend early mornings in the Loop, rescuing birds that have run afoul of the maze of city streets, bright lights and reflective windows, and taking all injured birds to a rehabber. They also keep an eye out for buildings with their lights on during migration and make contact with building owners and managers to discuss ways they can make their buildings safer for birds.
Sample Fall Flyer for distribution to buildings by BOMA
Sample Spring Flyer for distribution to buildings by BOMA
Sample press release
Chicago Research on Building Lights and Bird Deaths