Lights Out, Texas!

Each year, NRI participates in the Lights Out, Texas! campaign to promote 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, mostly under cover of darkness.

Led by Texan by Nature, Lights Out, Texas! is a collaborative effort, to say the least, with partners like the Cornell Lab of Ornithology playing a critical role in providing technical guidance and mapping/alerts through BirdCast. Partners like 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. 

No matter where in Texas our partners are from, we're all working in concert because Texas is globally important for migratory birds. Approximately 1 of every 3 birds migrating through the U.S. in spring, and 1 of every 4 bird migrating through the U.S. in the fall, or nearly two billion birds, pass through Texas. Collectively, we know that protecting birds in Texas promotes conservation across the Americas.

The Problem:

U.S. bird populations are declining rapidly, with 1 out of every 4 birds lost since 1970. An estimated one billion U.S. bird deaths occur annually from collisions with buildings and structures, with migratory species at most risk. Attraction and disorientation resulting from light pollution concentrate migrant birds in cities.

Why It Matters:

Birds are essential to our planet’s ecology – and local economies. Birds provide ecosystem services, act as benchmarks for environmental health, increase livability, and connect people of all ages and abilities to the natural world. Birds also support the Texas economy. In the Rio Grande Valley alone, Texas A&M found that nature tourism – which is dominated by bird watching – contributes $300 million to the economy and supports 4,407 full and part-time jobs annually.

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


Here’s How YOU Can Make a Difference:

Building owners, businesses, developers, and homeowners can help protect migrating birds by turning off all non-essential nighttime lighting on buildings and other structures from 11:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. each night.

Lighting 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.
  • Close blinds at night to reduce the amount of light being emitted from windows.

For essential lights (like security lighting) use the following dark skies friendly lighting practices:

  • Aim lights down
  • Use lighting shields to direct light downwards and to avoid light shining into the sky or trees
  • Use motion detectors and sensors so lights are only on when you need them

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; and lighting in perimeter rooms on all levels of the building.
  • Avoid: Floodlights; illuminating interior plants or fountains, and unoccupied floors; scheduling cleaning crews after dark; and blue-rich white light emissions (lighting with a color temperature of over 3000 Kelvin).
  • Use: Desk lamps or task lighting rather than overhead lights; blinking lighting in place of continuously burning lights; and warm light sources (less than 3000 Kelvin) for outdoor lighting.

With your help, we can dramatically reduce the hazards posed by light pollution in cities nationwide and allow birds to resume their typical migratory behaviors.

Additional ideas for building owners and managers include:

  • Motivate and inform your staff and tenants
  • Explain that adopting this new practice is a win-win; saving both birds and money. 
  • Clearly identify what lights need to be turned out, and how to go about shutting them off.
  • Designate staff member(s) responsible for turning off lights and make sure they know when to do so. 


Publish your commitment and your success to your community.

  • In your establishment: Place messaging around your establishment to help your tenants understand why you decided to turn lights out during migration season. 
  • On social media and your website: Share your success and influence others to make a positive change for wildlife and energy efficiency
  • In the press: Tell a reporter! As a leading establishment in your community, your commitment to go lights out to save birds is newsworthy. Push the news out to local and regional media channels.


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



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