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Portland to go 'lights out' to save the birds

By Keely Chalmers
KGW

PORTLAND, Ore. — Look toward the Oregon Convention Center after nine o'clock Friday night Sept 21st and you'll notice that those normally glowing towers will be dark.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Look toward the Oregon Convention Center after nine o'clock Friday night Sept 21st and you'll notice that those normally glowing towers will be dark.

The Convention Center is one of more than a dozen Portland buildings taking part in the 3rd Annual Lights Out Portland.

The purpose of the one-night event is to raise awareness about the impact bright lights have on migrating birds.

"We ask buildings to turn off their unnecessary exterior lighting and we also ask residences to participate," Mary Coolidge, Birdsafe Campaign Coordinator for the Audubon Society of Portland said.

Coolidge said the Audubon care center treats hundreds of birds for strike injuries every year.

Birds that are trying to do what is natural, but get confused by all the bright lights in the cities they fly over.

"The sky glow from all of our artificial light at night actually drowns out the stars which are the cues they are using to navigate on their migration path," She explained.

Once the birds get drawn into the city, many collide with the brightly lit buildings.

"In the United States, the research has shown, it's up to 988 million birds per year that die a result of colliding with a window," Coolidge said. "The number is really pretty staggering."

The Oregon Convention Center is not only taking part in the event Friday, but it also works to help birds every day.

It recently modified the lighting in the towers to be less attractive to birds. It also no longer turns on the tower lights in the early morning hours.

Small but important steps to help our feathered friends,

"As a nation, we're understanding that migrating birds are something that we need to protect," Oregon Convention Center deputy director Matt Pizzuti said. "Not just today but for our future."

To sign and participate in the event, visit: Audubon Society: Take the pledge to go Lights Out!

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