Impact of Artificial Light at Night on Bird Migration


Birds in Light

Millions of birds are killed annually in urban areas from crashing into buildings or being trapped by artificial light at night (ALAN). This is especially fatal during migration seasons in the fall and spring, with a demonstrated association between light and flight paths.

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Urban Observatory

The Urban Observatory at NYU's Center for Urban Science and Progress utilizes large-scale sensing and computing capabilities to observe and analyze the dynamics of urban environments. The data for this study came in part from the UO's pair of cameras stationed in One Bryant Park in Manhattan.

NYC Audubon

The sponsor for this project, New York City Audubon, is a grassroots community that tirelessly works for the protection of wild birds and wildlife in and around New York City. 



In the aggregate, there is neither a particularly positive nor negative relationship between luminance and reflectivity. On short spatial (~100 m) and temporal (~10 min) scales, there is not a strong correlation between building brightness and airborne bird density. This is, of course, under approximating assumptions of building brightness, arbitrary spatial scale for brightness calculations, the effects of building occlusion and bad weather, and isolation of bird radar signature.

However, there is some some evidence of correlated brightness and radar signal across lower Manhattan with promising initial results. 






Contractors Appointed


Birds Helped




Radar aficionado and bird-counting extraordinaire. His favorite bird is the plover.

Remote sensing specialist and part-time bird rescuer. Her favorite bird is the albatross.

Industrial-strength wielder of light and imaging magic. His favorite bird is a tie between the penguin and the duck.

A visualization wizard and interpolation pro. His favorite bird is the sweet chick!