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Baltimore Group Wants Lights Turned Off So Birds Stay Alive

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Bright lights, big cities---dead birds. That combination surfaces every spring and fall.

Alex DeMetrick reports here in Baltimore, it also puts volunteers onto the streets.

Two months every spring and two months every fall, volunteers walk the pre-dawn streets of Baltimore. Those are the four months birds migrate through the city---and not all make it.

"In the fall last year on my heaviest day, I found 37 dead birds and nine injured birds," said Aaron Heinsman.

"Usually a high mortality rate. Last fall, we collected 470 dead birds; we rescued 107 birds," said Lindsay Jacks.

The big killer is glass, and it's around the edges of some of Baltimore's largest buildings that volunteers patrol---but it's lights that draw the birds in, especially decorative lighting and lights that shine upward. It's also created an organization called Lights Out Baltimore, with members walking five miles every morning, looking for dead and injured birds.

To reduce the bird strikes, you have to reduce the lights. Some cities are doing just that.

"New York City has 40 buildings that participate in this project by turning off lights---including the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, the Chrysler Building," Jacks aid. "Chicago has over 100 buildings that participate so our goal would be to have Baltimore participate.

The group's Facebook page posts photos of the birds lost to light and glass during the four months of migration from north to south and back north again. This night is an exception to the usual patrol: no dead birds are found.

"This is a great night, actually. We don't want to find them," said Heinsman.

But it is an exception.

Lights Out Baltimore is not asking for street and security lights to be turned off during the migration months.

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