This issue is at the heart of World Migratory Bird Day, celebrated this Saturday, April 14, with the theme “Reducing the light for birds at night.”
Light pollution is on the rise, with artificially lit outdoor areas increasing by 2.2% annually between 2012 and 2016, according to a study cited by the Secretariat of the Convention on Species. wildlife migration (CMS), a United Nations environmental treaty.
Currently, more than 80% of the world’s population is estimated to be living under “a shining sky”, and the figure in Europe and North America is close to 99%.
Change the natural pattern
“Natural darkness has conservation value like clean water, air and soil. The main goal of World Migratory Bird Day 2022 is to raise awareness about the problem of light pollution and its negative effects on migratory birds,” speak Amy Fraenkel, CMS Executive Secretary.
Artificial light alters the natural patterns of light and darkness in ecosystems, and contributes to the deaths of millions of birds each year.
Light pollution can cause birds to change their migratory patterns, feeding behavior and vocal communication, leading to disorientation and collisions.
Disorientation and death
Migratory birds are attracted to artificial light at night – especially when there are low cloud conditions, fog, rain or when flying at lower altitudes – which puts them at risk in cities.
Birds become disoriented and as a result they may fly around in illuminated areas. When their energy reserves run out, they run the risk of burnout, or worse.
Jacques Trouvilliez, Executive Secretary of the Afro-European Waterfowl Agreement (AEWA), another UN treaty, said: “Many species of nocturnal migratory birds such as ducks, geese, lovebirds, sandbirds and Songbirds are affected by light pollution that causes disorientation and collisions with deadly consequences. .
“Seabirds such as petrels and shearwaters are attracted to artificial light on land and become prey for rats and cats.”
The sky is safer
Two years ago, the countries participating in the CMS endorsed light pollution guidance that covers sea turtles, seabirds and migratory seabirds.
The recommendations call for an Environmental Impact Assessment to be conducted for projects that may cause light pollution.
Projects should consider the main sources of light pollution at a given location, potentially affected wildlife species, and information about proximity to important habitats and migration pathways. reside.
New guidelines focusing on migratory birds and bats are currently under development and will be presented for adoption at a CMS conference next year.
Ms. Frankel said solutions to combat light pollution are readily available. More and more cities worldwide are taking measures to dim building lights during the spring and autumn migration periods, based on United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).
Call to action
World Migratory Bird Day is celebrated twice a year, on the second Saturday in May and October, to recognize the cyclical nature of bird migration and the different periods of peak migration. in the northern and southern hemispheres.
It is organized by a collaborative partnership between two United Nations wildlife treaties and the non-profit, Environment for the Americas (EFTA).
Susan Bonfield, Director of EFTA, said: “World Migratory Bird Day is a call to action for the conservation of international migratory birds.
“As a journey of migratory birds across borders, inspiring and connecting people along the way, our aim is to use two days in 2022 to raise awareness of the umbrella threat.” exposure to light and the importance of dark skies for bird migration.”