Lights Out Texas is a campaign of education, awareness, and action that focuses on turning out lights at night during the spring and fall migrations to help protect the billions of migratory birds that fly over Texas annually.
Lights Out Texas is a collaborative effort. Texan by Nature leads Lights Out Texas efforts across the state in collaboration with all of the organizations listed below. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology plays a critical role in providing technical guidance and mapping/alerts through BirdCast. Texas A&M University (Biodiversity Research and Teaching Collections) and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (Texas Nature Trackers) provide centralized leadership for volunteer research efforts.
Every Texan can participate in protecting our feathered friends by simply turning off their lights at night…Taking action now is vital because every spring and fall, between a third and a quarter of all birds migrating at night through the United States travel through Texas.”
– Former First Lady and Texan by Nature Founder, Laura Bush (Read the full op-ed…)
Lights Out Texas Goals
- Increase statewide participation in Lights Out Texas at the business, local official, municipal, and community levels
- Reduce migratory bird mortality
- Coordinate local volunteer efforts to collect and report data
Fall Migration Dates
- Full Fall Migration Period: August 15 – November 30
- Critical Fall Peak Migration Period: September 5 – October 29
Spring Migration Dates
- Full Spring Migration Period: March 1 – June 15
- Critical Spring Peak Migration Period: April 19 – May 7
We encourage everyone to turn off non-essential lights at night from 11 pm – 6 am during the full fall and spring migration periods, and where conflicts apply, prioritize lights out during the critical peak migration periods. Learn more…
Lights Out Texas History
This effort was originally launched in 2017 by Houston Audubon and American National Insurance Company following a major bird collision event involving 400 birds in Galveston. Right around this time, Cornell Lab of Ornithology developed their BirdCast migration forecast maps using historical radar data. Later, Lights Out Texas took hold in Dallas-Fort Worth, led by Texas Conservation Alliance, The Perot Museum of Nature and Science, and Dallas Zoo. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Colorado State University supported these efforts and Texan by Nature helped with outreach in fall 2020. In 2021, Texan by Nature (TxN) collaborated with these organizations to lead Lights Out Texas at the statewide level in order to standardize the approach to messaging, communication, and volunteer efforts across all Texas organizations.
How To Participate In Lights Out Texas
Guidelines for Everyone
- Turn off all non-essential lights from 11:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. each night during migration season.
- Do not use landscape lighting to light up trees or gardens where birds may be resting.
- For essential lights (like security and safety lighting) use the following dark skies friendly lighting practices:
- Aim lights down;
- Use lighting shields to direct light downwards and avoid light shining into the sky or trees;
- Use motion detectors and sensors so lights are only on when you need them;
- Close blinds at night to reduce the amount of light being emitted from windows.
- You can find examples of dark skies friendly lighting from the International Dark Sky Association and additional guidance and language regarding dark skies from the McDonald Observatory’s dark skies resources and recommended lighting practices.
- If you own or manage a building, consider the following for custodial services:
- Consider adjusting custodial schedules to end by 11:00 PM.
- Ask custodial staff to ensure that lights are off after they finish their work.
Additional Guidelines for Buildings Taller Than 3 Stories
- Extinguish or dim:
- Exterior and decorative lighting (i.e. spotlights, logos, clock faces, greenhouses, and antenna lighting);
- lobby/atrium lighting;
- lighting in perimeter rooms on all levels of the building.
- Illuminating interior plants or fountains,
- Illuminating unoccupied floors,
- Lights with blue-rich white light emissions (lighting with a color temperature of over 3000 Kelvin).
- Desk lamps or task lighting rather than overhead lights,
- Blinking lighting in place of continuously burning lights,
- Warm light sources (less than 3000 Kelvin) for outdoor lighting
Lights Out Texas Resources
We encourage you to use the resources below to spread the word and learn more about Lights Out Texas. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions, and/or if you are interested in setting up a meeting to learn more.
Dark Skies Resources
- McDonald Observatory’s Dark Skies Resources
- Recommended Lighting Practices (for energy companies, but practices are applicable across all industries)
- International Dark Sky Association Lighting Resources
A big thank you goes out to the following organizations that make Lights Out Texas possible:
Lights Out Texas Founding and Coordinating Organizations
- The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
- Texas Conservation Alliance
- Perot Museum of Nature and Science
- Biodiversity Research and Teaching Collections, Texas A&M University
- Houston Audubon
- Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Nature Trackers
- Texan by Nature
- Colorado State University
- University of Massachusetts Amherst
Lights Out Texas Supporting Organizations
- Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex
- Houston & Gulf Coast
- San Antonio
- West Texas