Pittsburgh Joins Lights Out Program to Protect Migratory Birds

Pittsburgh Joins Lights Out Program to Protect Migratory Birds

Business and conservation organizations partner to encourage turning lights off during the peak of bird migration

(Pittsburgh) September 2, 2021 – About one hundred thousand birds pass over the Pittsburgh region each year during migration, and a new initiative is encouraging businesses and residents to join in making birds’ journeys safer. A group of organizations that includes the Building Owners and Managers Association of Pittsburgh, BNY Mellon, BirdSafe Pittsburgh, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, and the National Aviary have joined forces to inspire participation in a movement to mitigate bird window collisions and disorientation of birds caused by bright artificial light in the city at night. 

The organizations today announced that Pittsburgh is joining a national movement, the Lights Out initiative. Lights Out is a voluntary program that encourages building owners and tenants to turn off as much internal and external building lighting as possible at night, particularly lights on upper floors and lobbies. Households can also participate in Pittsburgh’s first Lights Out program. This initiative is timed strategically to coincide with the peak of bird migration, which occurs in the fall and spring. 

The first Lights Out Pittsburgh launched September 1, when migratory birds are heading south to their wintering grounds. BNY Mellon, Carnegie Science Center, Eleven Stanwix, House Building, Law & Finance Building, Point Park University, Union Trust Building, United Steelworkers’ Building, 100 Ross, 20 Stanwix, 600 Waterfront and other buildings will be participating by turning off unnecessary lighting from midnight to 6 a.m. This initiative runs through November 15, and businesses and households can take the pledge to turn their lights out at any point during the migration season.  

“I am proud that BNY Mellon initiated this movement in the city of Pittsburgh. Each year it becomes increasingly important that we use our reach, market influence and resources to support environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues. As one of the largest building owners in the city this is a topic we felt passionate about moving forward,” says Christina Bencho with BNY Mellon.

Migration is a rigorous journey for birds. Bright lighting at night can disorient a bird’s natural sense of navigation, drawing the bird toward the light and often causing window collisions. This is especially challenging when visibility is low or when inclement weather forces them to come down quickly from flight. 

“BOMA Pittsburgh is pleased to be a supporter of the Lights Out Pittsburgh initiative. Turning down the lights in our member buildings will not only protect countless birds, but also save energy and reduce carbon emissions to help meet the City’s goal of a 50% reduction in energy use in Pittsburgh by 2030,”  says Amanda Schaub, Executive Director for BOMA Pittsburgh.

For years, volunteers with BirdSafe Pittsburgh have conducted monitoring in the downtown area during the migration seasons, collecting data to document bird fatalities, and to provide care for birds with injuries sustained from window collisions. BirdSafe Pittsburgh will document the progress made on reducing bird mortality resulting from the Lights Out initiative. Information on volunteering is available at birdsafepgh.org.

“This exciting initiative will further the research of BirdSafe Pittsburgh, and save numerous migrating birds as they make their journey south for the fall and winter months,” says Jonathan Rice, Urban Bird Conservation Coordinator, BirdSafe Pittsburgh and Carnegie Museum of Natural History.  

The collaborative effort to save birds on their migratory journeys continues to grow as businesses and residents join the pledge to turn off unnecessary lights from midnight to 6 am during peak seasonal migration periods. All are welcome and encouraged to participate.

 “The National Aviary is thrilled by the enthusiastic support of the downtown business community for this important initiative that will make the night skies safer for birds as they journey over our city,” says Robert Mulvihill, Ornithologist for the National Aviary. “Our simple actions like turning off lights at night have the potential to help save birds, and are even more effective when we act collectively.”

For more information about the Pittsburgh area Lights Out initiative, visit birdsafepgh.org.


The National Aviary is America’s only independent indoor nonprofit zoo dedicated to birds. Located on Pittsburgh’s historic Northside, the National Aviary is home to 500 birds representing more than 150 diverse species from around the world, many of them threatened or endangered in the wild. The National Aviary’s large walk-through habitats create an intimate, up-close interaction between visitors and free-flying birds, including opportunities to hand-feed and meet many species rarely found in zoos. Hours of operation are 10 a.m. – 5p.m. daily except for Tuesdays. For tickets and more information, visit www.aviary.org.

Carnegie Museum of Natural History, one of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, is among the top natural history museums in the country. It maintains, preserves, and interprets an extraordinary collection of millions of objects and scientific specimens used to broaden understanding of evolution, conservation, and biodiversity. Carnegie Museum of Natural History generates new scientific knowledge, advances science literacy, and inspires visitors of all ages to become passionate about science, nature, and world cultures. More information is available by calling 412.622.3131 or by visiting the website, https://carnegiemnh.org.

About BOMA Pittsburgh – Since 1919, the Building Owners & Managers Association of Pittsburgh has been helping owners and managers of commercial real estate maintain safe, efficient properties in Western PA. We do this through state and local advocacy, fostering professional connections through networking events, organizing members to serve in the local community, and training the next generation of commercial real estate leaders. BOMA Pittsburgh is proudly Federated with BOMA International, and our members operate over 22 million square feet of commercial real estate. 

BNY Mellon is a global investments company dedicated to helping its clients manage and service their financial assets throughout the investment lifecycle. Whether providing financial services for institutions, corporations or individual investors, BNY Mellon delivers informed investment and wealth management and investment services in 35 countries. As of June 30, 2021, BNY Mellon had $45.0 trillion in assets under custody and/or administration, and $2.3 trillion in assets under management. BNY Mellon can act as a single point of contact for clients looking to create, trade, hold, manage, service, distribute or restructure investments. BNY Mellon is the corporate brand of The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation (NYSE: BK). Additional information is available on www.bnymellon.com. Follow us on Twitter @BNYMellon or visit our newsroom at www.bnymellon.com/newsroom for the latest company news.

About the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership (PDP) is a dynamic, nonprofit organization comprised of business and community leaders, property owners, civic organizations, foundations, and residents who provide energy, vision, and advocacy for Downtown Pittsburgh. Working collaboratively with its partners, the PDP strives to create a positive Downtown experience for residents, workers and visitors alike. The PDP’s strategic initiatives include clean and safe services, transportation, and economic development and advocacy. For more information, visit www.DowntownPittsburgh.com, follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/downtownpitt and “like” us on Facebook.

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