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For the birds: Program asks Pittsburgh buildings and homeowners to limit light pollution to aid migrations

Geese flying along the Ohio River.
Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA
Geese flying along the Ohio River.

A new program led by the Carnegie Museum of Natural History is meant to help migrating birds safely make their way over Pittsburgh this spring.

The Spring 2022 Lights Out Pittsburgh campaign asks businesses and homeowners to turn out unnecessary lights during peak migration hours to keep birds from colliding with buildings.

More than 100,000 birds pass over the region every spring and fall migration, and many die after flying into windows, attracted by bright lights. Others are disoriented by artificial lights in the night sky.

Peak migration hours are midnight to 6 a.m. Spring migration season runs March 15 to May 31.

Lights Out Pittsburgh is part of the museum’s BirdSafe Pittsburgh program. Lights Out was begun in September by the Carnegie along with BNY Mellon, the Building Owners and Managers Association of Pittsburgh, the National Aviary, and Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.

About 75 buildings participated in the fall campaign, according to a release from the museum.

“Bringing a Lights Out program to Pittsburgh last fall culminated a long-time professional goal,” said Jonathan Rice, Urban Bird Conservation Coordinator at Carnegie Museum of Natural History and manager of BirdSafe Pittsburgh, in a statement. “Now it’s time to build on that. Eight years of research has shown us where birds collide in our city. This Lights Out program is the first step in making Pittsburgh a safer place for birds stopping over during migration, or who live here year-round.”

Participants this year include: Carnegie Mellon University, Carnegie Science Center, Eleven Stanwix, House Building, Law & Finance Building, Point Park University, Union Trust Building, United Steelworkers' Building, and 100 Ross.

To participate, or for more information, see

Bill is a long-time Pittsburgh-based journalist specializing in the arts and the environment. Previous to working at WESA, he spent 21 years at the weekly Pittsburgh City Paper, the last 14 as Arts & Entertainment editor. He is a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and in 30-plus years as a journalist has freelanced for publications including In Pittsburgh, The Nation, E: The Environmental Magazine, American Theatre, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Bill has earned numerous Golden Quill awards from the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania. He lives in the neighborhood of Manchester, and he once milked a goat. Email: