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'Lights Out': Downtown Fort Worth turning off lights overnight to try and save birds' lives

In a partnership between the City of Fort Worth and Downtown Fort Worth Inc., the skyline will be dimmed every night in March through May 31 from midnight to 6 a.m.
Credit: WFAA
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FORT WORTH, Texas — Downtown Fort Worth’s high-rise buildings will be turning down and turning off some of their lights in an effort save birds' lives.

In a partnership between the City of Fort Worth and Downtown Fort Worth Inc., the skyline will be dimmed every night in March through May 31 from midnight to 6 a.m.

This decision is in conjunction with the nationwide initiative called Lights Out, which works to protect billions of birds as they migrate across the United States. Many of these migration patterns occur at night.

Light from buildings, especially in urban areas, attracts and disorients these migrating birds, which confuses and exhausts them. It also makes them vulnerable to collisions with buildings.

Texas is globally important for birds, according to research done by the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology and Lights Out Texas. About one in every three birds migrating through the U.S. fly through Texas.

“This is a great educational opportunity for our entire community to take one proactive step to protect these migrating bird populations," Cody Whittenburg said. He is the environmental manager for the City of Fort Worth. "Turning the lights out in other populated areas of the city such as shopping centers and outdoor sports venues will also make a huge contribution.”

Frost Tower is one of the downtown buildings supporting the Lights Out, Fort Worth effort. This building is located near the center of the flyway for many birds' migration patterns.

“It’s so important for all of us to act locally to support our global environment, and this is just one small way we can do our part," Laura Bird said. She is the president of Anthracite Realty Partners LLC., Frost Tower in downtown Fort Worth. “Light pollution causes habitat loss that affects our bird populations."

Bird also said her team made slides for TV screens and on the ground-floor lobby and sky lobby to shade some of the light from inside the building.

"Hopefully the slides will inspire everyone to be an advocate as they go back to their homes and communities," Bird said.

It's not necessary to be downtown to take part, according to the City of Fort Worth. Reducing light pollution at night for a few hours, where possible, can still support this effort. Turning off lights dramatically reduces hazards and disorientation by light, allowing birds to safely proceed with their migratory journeys.  

Downtown buildings participating in the effort so far:

  • Bank of America Tower
  • Burnett Plaza
  • Cash America
  • First on 7th
  • Fort Worth City Hall
  • Frost Tower
  • Pier I Building
  • 777Main
  • The Tower
  • Trinity Terrace
  • Wells Fargo Tower