CLEVELAND - It’s that time of year again, birds of all kinds start to migrate out of Ohio in droves, but they face a threat along their way—collisions into buildings beaming with bright lights.
These nighttime incidents leave dozens of birds injured or dead and now a group of volunteers is trying to prevent that from happening.
The initiative is called ‘Lights Out Cleveland.’ During spring and fall migration this past year, nearly 30 volunteers trekked the downtown streets at 5 a.m., searching and collecting dead or injured birds.
“It is a passion when you’re an animal lover, you know that you can help somewhere, it’s one of those things that you can help wherever you can, one bird at a time, so 5 a.m., it’s not great on my days off, but I’m getting up just like everybody else,” said Shannon White, one of the volunteers.
Those birds are migrating south, but get confused and distracted by the lights on buildings at night; as a result, they crash into windows, doors and even get burned by the lights and die.
So White and the group are on a quest, to not only collect birds to showcase the problem, but also rehabilitating birds who can be saved.
Their main goal is to get local downtown businesses to flip the switch off overnight during migration seasons.
Tim Jasinski, Wildlife Rehabilitation Specialist and leader of the group said losing birds could mean a huge impact on our ecosystem and that’s why they make rehabilitation a top priority.
“Any place we get to a building, there’s a bunch of birds on the ground, we make sure the alive birds are a priority,” he said.
The group has collected and rehabilitated 595 songbirds since September 1 of this year.
In addition, there’s also a statewide effort here in Ohio, to get businesses in other cities to flip the switch during migration season.
The Cleveland group plans to put a thorough analysis of their data together to present to lawmakers and business owners by next fall.