One aspect of Lights Out Indy is to learn more about the phenomena of birds and building collisions in Metro Indianapolis. For many years birders and others have noticed dead birds in downtown Indianapolis. Most of the dead birds are quickly cleaned up by building maintenance so the visible consequences of building collisions are not seen by the average pedestrian. The majority of the dead birds our volunteers find make their way to the Indiana State Museum while others are donated to various nature centers.
Lights Out Indy is interested in assessing the number of birds, and of what species, that die as a result of colliding with a building in downtown Indianapolis. Between 2009 and 2012, our limited team of volunteers noted more than 1,200 bird strikes in downtown Indianapolis. This is just a fraction of the actual number of birds that are actually killed or injured. Most of the birds are cleaned up by maintenance staff and therefore the extent of this problem goes largely unnoticed. Future research plans call for more intensive efforts to locate dead birds and working with building managers to save dead birds that are found by staff. The Indiana State Museum is also assisting with collection efforts.
Birds colliding with buildings and other man-made structures is well known and has been studied by many authors. Summaries of previous research can be found at:
Ornithologists with The Field Museum have studied birds and building collisions in Chicago for a few decades. Doug Stotz found that prior to the Chicago Lights Out campaign approximately 1500 birds per year were killed at just one building – McCormick Place. After McCormick Place began participating in Lights Out bird mortality was reduced 80%.
Reducing bird mortality in Metro Indy is just one of the goals of Lights Out Indy. We expect that bird deaths will be reduced through the initiative. However, the other goal of Lights Out Indy is to reduce energy consumption. This will be achieved every time an unnecessary light is turned off.
See the list of bird species affected by bird strikes in Indianapolis HERE.