NEW YORK (WWTI) — New York State agencies have announced that two initiatives have been launched in New York to help protect birds as they navigate night skies.

According to the Department of Environmental Conservation, many species of shorebirds and songbirds rely on constellations to help them navigate to and from their summer breeding grounds throughout the state. However, excessive outdoor lighting, especially in adverse weather conditions, can cause these migrating birds to become disoriented, a phenomenon known as a fatal light attraction.

The issue has led to collisions with windows, walls, floodlights, or the ground and the death of an estimated 500 million to one billion birds annually in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The new ‘Lights Out’ initiative will work to combat the issue, and the Capital Region segment of the New York State Birding Trail will help support different bird populations.

The ‘Lights Out’ initiative focuses on reducing non-essential outdoor lighting to avoid preventing birds from migrating successfully, both in the Capital Region and throughout New York. State buildings will participate in the effort and others are encouraged to participate.

New York State DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos stressed the importance of making an effort to support bird species during this time of year.

“We all play a role in the protection of our natural resources and the Lights Out initiative is a simple way to help a variety of bird species survive and thrive during the busy migration season,” Commissioner Seggos said. “DEC is proud to join several partners to lead by example and take actions that will reduce bird collisions. We are also excited about the ongoing progress in completing the New York State Birding Trail with this newest Capital Region segment that all New Yorkers can enjoy.”

State-owned and managed buildings will specifically turn off non-essential outdoor lighting from 11 p.m. to dawn during the spring migration through May 31 and also during the peak fall migration which lasts from August 15 through November 15. State agencies will also be encouraged to draw blinds, when possible, and turn off non-essential indoor lighting during Lights Out times.

Additionally, the Capital Region segment of the New York State Birding Trail which is comprised of 29 locations throughout five counties has opened. The goal of the trail is to provide a variety of quality birding experiences for New Yorkers and visitors to enjoy birdwatching.

The New York State Birding Trail map can be found on the DEC website. The provides valuable information on each site such as location, available amenities, species likely to be seen, directions, and more. Additional information on birding, and educational and interpretive information, is also available. Digital information on the Birding Trail will be updated periodically, so budding outdoor enthusiasts are encouraged to check back often.