Posts tagged ‘Lights Out New York’

Project Safe Flight Unwrapped: Fall 2020

Despite difficult and uncertain circumstances this past fall, Project Safe Flight continued forward in its efforts to study bird collisions throughout our city. This community science project, now in its 24th year, relies on the efforts of volunteers, who wake up at the crack of dawn from the start of September through early November to monitor select routes in our city for dead and injured birds that have collided with buildings. Using Project Safe Flight research, we estimate between 90,000 to 230,000 birds collide with buildings each year in our city.


The data these volunteers collect are invaluable, guiding our decisions of where to monitor next season during spring migration and informing our policy research as we delve deeper in our advocacy for bird-friendly buildings. Project Safe Flight research was instrumental in convincing the New York City Council to pass Int. 1482 (now Local Law 15), which requires all new construction and alterations that replace all of a building’s glass to use bird-friendly materials.⁠ Local Law 15 went into effect on January 10th of this year, and now we hope further collision data pinpointing the deadliest structures in our city will convince building owners to retrofit their buildings with bird-safe glass.


This fall, our diverse and intrepid team of 28 volunteers (13 of which were new this year) found 67 different species while monitoring six routes throughout New York City. The most common species found were the Northern Parula (34 collisions), Black-throated Blue Warbler (24), White-throated Sparrow (22), Black-and-white Warbler (19), Ovenbird (19), Common Yellowthroat (17), and Golden-crowned Kinglet (13).



Performing 277 unique site visits over the course of an 8-week monitoring period, volunteers found 403 birds in total, with 332 of them being dead and 71 being injured. Looking at the number of collisions by time of year, 141 birds were found in the month of September, while 249 were found in October. The highest concentration of birds were found in the two-week period from October 1st to October 15th, with volunteers finding 164 birds. In Fall 2019, during the course of the entire monitoring season, we found 156 birds in total. So in October of 2020, we found more birds than we did the entire fall season the previous year!



Looking at collisions by site monitored, Downtown West had the most collisions at 179 (last year’s number was 65), with Downtown East being not far behind at 137 (58). The collision victims found at the Metropolitan Museum of Art was 20 (17), while Brooklyn Bridge Park was 11 (16). Our newest routes, Long Island City and the Circa building on the Upper West Side, saw 12 and 44 collisions, respectively.



We thank all of our Project Safe Flight volunteers from the fall season for their diligence and hard work. We could not have gathered any of these valuable Project Safe Flight data without their time, energy, and most importantly, their incredibly kind hearts and deep compassion for birds of all kinds.



We are always seeking new Project Safe Flight volunteers! Please be on the lookout for upcoming announcements of Project Safe Flight orientations occurring in March, in time for spring migration. Even if you don’t volunteer for Project Safe Flight, you can still contribute to our data by reporting dead and injured birds you find to our crowd-sourced bird collision database at It only takes a minute to record a collision to D-Bird on your phone! For ways to make your building bird-friendly, please visit American Bird Conservancy’s Glass Collisions website. Below you will find a list of all species found during the Fall 2020 season by Project Safe Flight volunteers.


-Aurora Crooks, Conservation Associate


Species Counted:
American Redstart (10)
American Robin (1)
American Woodcock (2)
Black-and-white Warbler (19)
Baltimore Oriole (1)
Bay-breasted Warbler (1)
Belted Kingfisher (1)
Black-throated Blue Warbler (24)
Black-capped Chickadee (1)
Black-throated Green Warbler (4)
Blackpoll Warbler (7)
Blue Jay (2)
Blue-headed Vireo (1)
Brown Creeper (6)
Canada Warbler (2)
Cedar Waxwing (8)
Chestnut-sided Warbler ( 1)
Chipping Sparrow (1)
Common Yellowthroat (17)
Dark-eyed Junco (1)
Eastern Wood-pewee (1)
Golden Crowned Kinglet (13)
Golden Crowned Sparrow (2)
Evening Grosbeak (1)
Falcon Sp.(1)
Field Sparrow (1)
Flycatcher (1)
Gray Catbird (1)
Gray-Cheeked Thrush (1)
Hermit Thrush (10)
House Wren (1)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (3)
Lincoln’s Sparrow (3)
Louisiana Waterthrush (1)
Magnolia Warbler (5)
Mourning Dove ( 2)
Nashville Warbler (4)
Northern Flicker (3)
Northern Parula (34)
Northern Waterthrush (2)
Nuthatch Sp. (1)
Ovenbird (19)
Palm Warbler (2)
Passerine sp. (1)
Philadelphia Vireo (1)
Pine Warbler (7)
Red-breasted Nuthatch (5)
Red-eyed Vireo (1)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (4)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (3)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (9)
Savannah Sparrow (1)
Scarlet Tanager (1)
Song Sparrow (7)
Sparrow (Unknown) (12)
Swainson’s Thrush (4)
Swamp Sparrow (6)
Tennessee Warbler (3)
Unknown Species (13)
Veery (1)
Vireo Sp.(1)
Virginia Rail (1)
Unknown Warbler (54)
White-breasted Nuthatch (1)
White-throated Sparrow (22)
Willow Flycatcher (1)
Woodpecker Sp. (3)
Yellow Warbler (5)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (6)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (5)
Yellow-billed Cuckoo (1)
Yellow-throated Warbler (3)


Thank You to Our Community Scientists

February, the third and final month of winter, is often ushered by freezing wind, snow, and bitter cold. On one night this February, the NYC Audubon office was a lively refuge from the cold of February—filled with warmth, drinks, banter and hearty laughter, and spreads upon spreads of meals. But for what occasion?


On February 12th of this year, Charles Darwin would have turned 211 years young. In honor of him and his achievements, we invited our community scientists who continue to contribute to scientific advancements to a “Darwin Day” potluck party at our office.


Community Scientists Volunteers at the 2020 Darwin Day Party © NYC Audubon

Community Scientists Volunteers at the 2020 Darwin Day Party © NYC Audubon

Darwin’s curiosity, tenacity, intellect, and fearlessness clearly lives on in each and every one of our brilliant community scientists. Our conservation work would not be possible without the efforts of our community science volunteers aiding our research. Each year, we look forward to working with hundreds of volunteers from all walks of life who collect data for some of our key research programs such as Project Safe Flight, Tribute in Light Monitoring, Shorebird Blitz, and Horseshoe Crab Counts.


The data collected, the information analyzed, and ultimately, the scientific understanding we gain through these programs is truly a collaborative effort between our scientists and our dedicated team of community scientists. The collective knowledge these everyday New Yorkers share, the passion they bring, and the time they donate are critical to our work. We are thankful for their dedication to the pursuit of scientific insights and the conservation of the wildlife and habitats that make New York City an astoundingly unique ecosystem.



Aurora Crooks,

Conservation Program Volunteer Coordinator




What Green Roofs Can Do for NYC’s Environment and People

First-ever forum on June 7 brings together city researchers, educators, and policymakers to explore the potential of green roofs for the City and ways to unlock it


New York, NY, May 17, 2018. The NYC Green Roof Researchers Alliance will hold its first annual conference, “The State of Green Roofs in New York City,” to discuss cutting-edge research on urban green roofs on Thursday, June 7, at The New School. This is the first-ever forum on the emerging fields of green roof science, policy, and education.


Javits K. Javits Convention Center Green Roof, One of the Largest Green Roofs in the Country

Javits K. Javits Convention Center Green Roof, One of the Largest Green Roofs in the Country

Coordinated by NYC Audubon with funding from The New York Community Trust, the NYC Green Roof Researchers Alliance is a consortium of over 50 researchers, educators, and policymakers from 17 New York City and State institutions. It is investigating the potential benefits of green roofs, developing a comprehensive overview of green roofs in New York City, and working to expand them across the cityscape.


New York City’s one million rooftops add up to a vast underutilized landscape that could be harnessed to make a more resilient and equitable urban environment. If effectively designed and sited, green roofs can soak up stormwater to reduce sewage overflows that pollute the city’s waterways, filter air pollution, moderate extreme heat, decrease carbon emissions, and create habitat for wild birds, bats, and pollinators.


The conference will open with a keynote by Alan Steel, CEO and President of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, which installed the largest and most studied green roof in the city (and one of the largest in the country) when the center was renovated in 2013. Topics to be covered at the conference include the development of a map and database of New York City green roofs, the use of green roofs by birds, bats, and insects, and the effects of green roofs on stormwater retention, energy use, and the urban heat island effect. Presenters will give an overview of policies that have expanded the use of green roofs in other cities and the ways in which New York City educators are using green roofs for science instruction.


Free and open to the public. Space is limited. Pre-register at


9-9:30 am: Check in, Coffee, and Welcome

9:30-10am: Keynote Address/Q&A, Alan Steel, President and CEO, Jacob K. Javits Convention Center

10-11:15am: Mapping Green Roofs, Green Infrastructure, and Future Potential in NYC

11:30am-12pm: Green Roof Stormwater Runoff and Microclimate Research

1-2:15pm: Green Roof Biodiversity and Biological Research

2:30-4pm: Green Roof Policy, Incentives, Management, and Education

4-4:05pm: Closing Remarks

4:10-5pm: Hors d’oeuvres and Networking with Green Roof Researchers Alliance



The event is sponsored by the Urban Systems Lab at The New School and NYC Audubon, and co-sponsored by the Civic Liberal Arts Program at Eugene Lang College and the Environmental Studies Program at The New School. The NYC Green Roof Researchers Alliance is underwritten by The New York Community Trust, A.P.J. O’Connor Fund, and the LuEsther T. Mertz Fund.



Tribute in Light Monitoring 2017

Tribute in Light 2017 © Sean Sime

Tribute in Light 2017 © Sean Sime

Every year on September 11, two beams of light illuminate the sky over Manhattan, reminding New Yorkers and the nation to pause in remembrance of those who lost their lives on 9/11/2001. New York City Audubon has monitored this important and touching tribute since 2002 to ensure it is safe for migrating birds. The beams, created using 88 7,000-watt xenon spotlight bulbs, can attract large numbers of night-migrating birds in some years. Once in the powerful beams the birds can become “trapped” and circle the lights, putting them at risk of exhaustion, disorientation, and injury. If a critical mass of birds is spotted circling at any point throughout the night, NYC Audubon works in partnership with the National September 11 Memorial & Museum and Michael Ahern Production Services to turn off the lights for roughly 20 minutes, which allows the birds to disperse.


NYC Audubon staff, board members, and 35 volunteers worked together in small teams to count birds for the 10-hour duration of the tribute. Our volunteers logged a collective 137 hours of monitoring!

Volunteers Monitoring the Tribute in Light for Birds © Sean Sime

Volunteers Monitoring the Tribute in Light for Birds © Sean Sime

This year we were able to station additional observers adjacent to and 28 stories above the tribute monitoring site thanks to our friends at the Battery Rooftop Garden. This new vantage point allowed us to validate the counts taken at the monitoring site below and observe the birds from a different angle.


Peak migration activity typically occurs around midnight, so we were surprised to see the number of birds quickly grow at 9pm. By 9:40pm, the birds were flying low enough that their night-flight calls were audible.

Birds Trapped in the Tribute in Light

Birds Trapped in the Tribute in Light 2017

The lights were turned off at 9:49pm to allow the birds to disperse. When we counted over 1,000 birds at 10:55pm, the lights were shut off for a second time. The lights were switched off for a third and final time when low-flying birds became a problem at 12:30am.


We confirmed in each instance using radar that the birds had left the area before the lights were turned on again. All of us at the tribute breathed a sigh of relief when bird numbers dwindled after 1am and the birds that were present appeared to pass through the beams without becoming trapped. The lights remained on until 6am.


We observed many of the species that we have become accustomed to seeing in the beams, such as black-and-white warblers, northern parulas, Baltimore orioles, and American redstarts. There were also some more notable observations, including a hunting American kestrel, chimney swifts, yellow-billed cuckoos, a hummingbird, and a downy woodpecker that landed on the ledge of a nearby building.


Predaceous Diving Beetle Seen at Tribute in Light 2017

Predaceous Diving Beetle Seen at Tribute in Light 2017

In addition to monitoring birds, we monitored bats for the second year in a row. We also added an arthropod collection component. Andrew Farnsworth and his team from Cornell joined us on the roof to record night-flight calls and monitor the birds with radar. Among the insects collected this year were a praying mantid, numerous lady beetles, and predaceous diving beetles (pictured). We also saw and recorded the echolocation calls of several eastern red bats that were taking advantage of the insects congregated in the lights.


Be sure to check out NYC Audubon’s Facebook page or our Twitter page for more photos and video from the event. To learn more about the work NYC Audubon does to protect migrating birds, visit our Project Safe Flight page. New York City Audubon’s Project Safe Flight program is made possible by the leadership support of the Leon Levy Foundation.


-Kaitlyn Parkins, Conservation Biologist