New York City birds will now have safer flight paths, thanks to two life-saving “Lights Out” bills passed unanimously by the city council that will require city-owned or leased businesses to shut off non-essential lighting during peak migratory periods and times.

We thank the more than 27,900 people who signed our petition in support of Lights Out! New York City, and the dedicated team at NYC Audubon for fighting tirelessly for this legislation.

The city’s artificial lights cause significant “light pollution” at night, which can disorient birds and leads to dangerous – and sometimes deadly –  collisions into buildings with glass for an estimated 90,000 to 230,000 birds each year, according to NYC Audubon.

Intro 274, sponsored by Council member Helen Rosenthal, aim to help prevent those needless casualties by having businesses shut off non-essential lighting from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.  from August 15 to November 15, and from April 1 to May 31.

“The volume of birds traveling across North America is truly extraordinary and bird species are a critical part of our ecology,” Rosenthal said. “The bills we passed yesterday are important steps toward ensuring that New York City is supporting, and not contributing to the demise of, the incredible diversity of wildlife found in our skies.”

The requirements apply to buildings owned by the city, or buildings in which the city is the only tenant. For buildings the city leases where there are other tenants, the bills ask the leasing agent to use best efforts to include in lease language a requirement to turn off nonessential lighting during those times.

The council anticipates the change will also help reduce the city’s energy consumption. 

Kathy Nizzari, chair of the 25-member Lights Out Coalition that played an essential role in this legislative victory, said she could not be happier than when witnessing the council’s unanimous votes on Intro 274 and Intro 271, the latter of which mandates the city to install occupancy sensors in every building owned, over the next eight years, to also reduce light pollution.

“We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Council Member Helen Rosenthal, who championed this important measure that will save the lives of hundreds of thousands of birds as they pass through our city during their migration,” Nizzari said.