Georgia Audubon has been awarded a grant by the Disney Conservation Fund (DCF) to expand Project Safe Flight and Lights Out Georgia to the Georgia coast to help reduce bird collisions in this key region. This is the fourth consecutive grant Georgia Audubon has received from the Disney Conservation Fund to support collision-reduction efforts.
“Georgia Audubon is delighted to again receive support from the Disney Conservation Fund for our Project Safe Flight and Lights Out Georgia programs,” says Adam Betuel, director conservation for Georgia Audubon. “This grant will enable us to expand the collision-related work we have been doing in metro Atlanta area to the Georgia coast to study collisions and implement solutions that will reduce the number of birds killed by building collisions.”
Georgia Audubon will use grant monies to expand Project Safe Flight on the Georgia coast. The work will include conducting research on bird collisions and identifying and treating problematic buildings with window film to reduce collisions. A mapping system highlighting important stopover habitat on the coast will also be created, and Georgia Audubon will roll out expanded Light Out Georgia information to encourage coastal residents and commercial properties to reduce or eliminate nocturnal lighting that interferes with bird migration.
Georgia's coast is especially important to migratory bird populations in North America due to its unique geography and relatively intact habitat. In the spring, migratory bird species from across the Neotropics rely on the Georgia coast, as it is often their first stop following a transoceanic flight. In the fall, even more birds follow the Georgia coast as they fly south. The barrier islands, maritime forests, and marshlands of the Georgia Bight are vital for migratory bird populations. In addition to the food and shelter that this region provides, many birds use the coast as a guide, choosing to follow its edge in migration rather than setting out over the risky ocean. It is estimated that over 900 million birds migrate over Georgia each year, with a large amount of that occurring along the coast. Understanding how migratory species use this space, what locations are most vital, how to lessen the threats they face, and opportunities to educate and engage the local communities are all incredibly important tasks for this region and things Georgia Audubon will explore as part of this grant work.
“Georgia Audubon will collaborate with a number of different organizations to complete the work, including Dr. Kyle Horton at Colorado State University’s AeroEco Lab, the Jekyll Island Authority, and other partners,” says Betuel. “We are interested in exploring the opportunities that exist surrounding light reduction, how we may tie into sea turtle conservation and other light-reduction efforts along the coast, as well as to better understand what our data tell us about protection and management opportunities along our coastline.”
Project Safe Flight Georgia is a conservation and engagement effort to understand the issue of bird-building collisions across the state. Project Safe Flight Georgia volunteers patrol selected routes during peak bird migration periods collecting birds that have died or have been injured after colliding with buildings. Since Project Safe Flight Georgia launched in 2015, more than 2,800 birds of 119 different species have been collected.
Current research estimates that between 365 million and 1 billion birds perish each year from colliding with buildings in the United States. Bright lights at night can attract and disorient migrating birds, causing them to be drawn to developed spaces, crash into structures, or “trap” them in beams of light leading to exhaustion. Birds also struggle with reflective surfaces during the day as they stop and feed or rest. Shiny glass exteriors and reflections of trees and shrubs close to buildings can all be deadly to birds who are unable to determine reflections from actual flyways or perceive glass as a barrier.
To learn more about Georgia Audubon’s collision-related work, please visit www.georgiaaudubon.org/building-collisions.
DCF grant recipients are selected based on their efforts to implement comprehensive community wildlife conservation programs, stabilize and increase populations of at-risk animals and engage communities in conservation in critical ecosystems around the world.
For information on Disney’s commitment to conserve nature and a complete list of grant recipients, visit www.disney.com/conservation.
About Georgia Audubon: Georgia Audubon is building places where birds and people thrive. We create bird-friendly communities through conservation, education, and community engagement.
Birds Georgia is building places where birds and people thrive.