Announcements from the August 2022 Chapter Meeting

Your Lights Out Challenge

Highlights from the August 2022 Chapter Meeting

The Announcements

View the full set of August announcements by clicking here. Further activities are listed on the chapter calendar. Opportunities and contacts, websites, and other details are available in the announcements.

Highlights of the meeting

Recognition – Congratulations to our 2nd Quarter Milestone Achievers: 250 Hours – Lybo Buchanan, Dan Matkin; 500 Hours – Adam Cochran, Sarah Hutchings; 1000 Hours – Judy Cato, Carrie Robinson, Barbara Wilson; and 2500 Hours – Don Pearson. Well done!

Honorary Membership: The chapter voted to confer Honorary North Texas Master Naturalist Membership on pioneering environmentalist Ned Fritz (1916-2008).

Lights Out: Safer Skies for Migrating Birds

Many thanks to Yvette Stewart, Audubon Texas, and Dr. Tania Homayoun, Texas Parks and Wildlife, for an enlightening presentation on light pollution and  building collisions, and for challenging us with practical actions we can take to make bird migration safer.

Tania began with an overview of migration, stresses on bird populations, and the critical role Texas has for birds. While migration allows birds to take advantage of abundant food supply and nesting areas year round, it comes with the need for safe habitat in each season.

Dangers – That habitat is rarely safe. Risks from light pollution and proximity to the built landscape is especially high for songbirds, raptors and shorebirds that migrate at lower altitudes. Some 70% of birds migrate, of these 80% do so at night.

Threats from light and building collisions stress already declining bird numbers, accounting for a billion bird deaths annually. By far the largest losses are to domestic and feral cats, at some three billion birds annually. These losses are compounded by habitat fragmentation, light and chemical pollution, and climate change.

Texas’ role – Our state is critical because of the rapid growth in our interconnected megaregions and because we are on the Central Flyway (and part of the Mississippi). Some 630 bird species, including 98.5% of North America’s Neotropicals have been recorded in Texas. Particularly after crossing the Gulf of Mexico, birds need good stopover habitat to rest and refuel.

The rate and pattern of growth in Texas have made Houston and Dallas two of the highest migration risk areas in the United States. The danger is highest for night migrators and increases for insectivorous and woodland species.

Hazards from built environment – Two building elements work together to create collision risk: glass, its reflectivity and invisibility, and light, especially overly bright or misdirected light that creates glare and sky glow. Building height is also a factor, with most fatal collisions at low rise structures (2-11 stories), followed by lower buildings.

Practical measures – Yvette picked up this thread, outlining what we can do to minimize these hazards – at personal, community, and statewide levels.

Looking first at our homes, daytime solutions include window stickers, UV paint, Acopian barriers, and other deterrents that follow the 2”x4” rule. At night, it is important to only light areas when and where actually needed, outdoors and in. Consider lower levels, motion sensors, and using warm white tones.

At the community level Yvette encouraged participating in citizen science through iNaturalist and morning bird surveys. She also stressed the importance of social media (hashtag #LightsOutTexas) and educating friends and neighbors.

Using social media at the state level is also powerful, particularly identifying positive and negative decisions. Supporting PROs (proclamations, resolutions, ordinances), scheduling meetings, and engaging with coalitions round out the toolkit.

Our challenge – Yvette closed with this: Knowing that it makes a real difference, would you commit to:

  • Analyzing your home for daytime and nighttime improvements?
  • Talking to 3 people about bird migration and threats?
  • Volunteering for at least 2 morning bird surveys?
  • Attending one or more open forums?
  • Sharing positives and negatives on social media?
  • Support and engage with proclamations, resolutions, ordinances?

Resources: Tania and Yvette passed along these additional contacts and information sources. They welcome your questions on birds and conservation at Tania.Homayoun@tpwd.texas.gov and yvette.stewart@audubon.org.

  • American Bird Conservancy collision site – Under the downloadable resources tab, the Powder Mill Test Tunnel paper describes how they test the materials. A short, fascinating read!
  • Audubon Texas’ Lights Out Texas page
  • Ben Jones and Texas Conservation Allianceare looking for Lights Out Texas monitoring volunteers. Reach out to Ben to sign up; Emails (ben@tcatexas.org) or calls (214-683-5824) welcome!
  • Proof community science leads to change: the story of NYC Audubon’s monitoring of the Twin Towers light memorial.
  • International Dark Sky Association’s Dark Sky Friendly Lighting recommendations with searches grouped by company, application, retailer, temperature, and residential.
  • The 2019 article summing up the study and list of most dangerous cities for migrating birds.
  • Dark Sky DefendersLight pollution definition.
  • BirdCast from Cornell Lab of Ornithology so folks can sign up for lights out alerts.
  • Social Media: If you take action and want to share that on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, please hashtag with #LightsOutTexas. Hashtags will help Audubon Texas and Lights Out Texas partners track the success of our fall and all future campaigns. It’s an important metric that can support the outcomes of the surveys and impact across the state!

When the recording of this meeting is available, it will be posted here.

Thanks to our guests and members for participating in this month’s meeting. I hope all feel welcome at NTMN.

Take care,
Scott Hudson
President
North Texas Master Naturalist

 

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