Death toll rising for birds in Atlanta - CBS46 News


Death toll rising for birds in Atlanta

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(Source: WGCL) (Source: WGCL)

Someone, or something, is killing thousands of birds in Atlanta. Since spring, the death toll began rising every week.

For Atlanta office workers, the dead birds are a sad sight at their doorstep. Now, Audubon Society volunteers are tracking and finding the dead or dying birds, many of them in Sandy Springs, Dunwoody and Buckhead.

The most frequently found species is the ruby-throated hummingbird.

I took the birds’ deaths to heart, searching for the reason why the birds are dying.

I find it in our glittering urban architecture.

Birds have flown over north Georgia for millions of years, enjoying our trees and water to stop over on annual spring and fall migrations. But now, in the blink of an evolutionary eye, the flocks are finding a deadly obstacle.

Flying at night to avoid predators, the birds see brightly lighted skyscrapers. The lights attract attention. The birds fly into the glass walls and fall to their deaths. 

Some are casualties of nighttime collisions with windows, while others circle in confusion until they become exhausted. When they land, they fall prey to other urban threats.

"Dozens of species are affected, including such priority species — those we’ve identified as most in need of and most likely to benefit from our help —as the Allen’s Hummingbird, Varied Thrush, Golden-winged Warbler, and Seaside Sparrow.”

The Audubon Society

This spring, for the first time Atlanta joins North Carolina as the only Southern states to combat the bird deaths. It’s a program called Lights Out Atlanta.  First to sign up are Buckhead office towers managed by Highwoods Properties.

Vice President Jim Bacchetta acknowledges the threat his buildings pose, saying, "They are big towers, up in the sky, many of them reflective glass. We can't fix that."

But he can, and did, order that all non-essential lights go out from midnight to sunrise during the months of the Spring and Fall migration.

Other Atlanta businesses are looking at what the Lights Out Atlanta pledge can do for the birds.

Atlanta Audubon says:

  • Minimize unnecessary bird deaths
  • Save money by reducing energy usage
  • Satisfy your building's sustainability goals
  • Receive recognition for sustainable, bird-friendly practices
  • Be recognized as a regional and national leader in sustainability and bird conservation
  • Make Atlanta a bird-safe community

How to participate:

  • Sign the pledge at
  • Turn off exterior decorative lighting during peak migration season
  • Extinguish spot and floodlights
  • Substitute strobe lighting where possible
  • Reduce lobby and atrium lighting where possible
  • Turn off interior lighting, especially on upper floors
  • Substitute task and area lighting for workers staying late
  • Down-shield exterior lighting or limit

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