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One building in downtown Denver is the biggest bird killer in the city

Started in 2018, “Lights out Denver” is a program to increase awareness of migratory bird collisions with buildings.

DENVER — Birds flying through Denver as they migrate north could use a little help to get them to their final destinations alive.

Twice a year, during spring and fall migration, more than 300 bird species fly through Denver along the "Central Flyway," according to Denver Parks and Recreation.

Tim Luethke, a natural resources technician with Denver Parks and Recreation, said birds typically migrate at night and are attracted to bright lights, so downtown Denver is sadly a hotspot for birds colliding with windows. 

“What happens when they’re flying north, is they see the bright lights at the Front Range, and they’re attracted in particular to Denver because it’s our biggest city for hundreds of miles around. They wind up in this really window-dense environment where unfortunately they wind up flying right into windows.”

Luethke helps run “Lights out Denver,” a city program started in 2018 which aims to increase awareness of migratory bird collisions with buildings. It has volunteers who go out and collect data to find out what parts of downtown Denver are the most dangerous for birds. 

Lights Out Denver Collision Mapper (arcgis.com)

Luethke said four years of data collection shows that the number one bird killer in Denver is the Wells Fargo Center building on Lincoln Street.

Credit: Chris

The city encourages new builders to use bird-safe glass with ultraviolet reflective patterns visible to birds.

It’s estimated window collisions kill one billion birds every year in the United States.

Luethke said over the last 30 years, bird populations have continued to decrease, which has consequences on our ecosystems.

“Birds provide so many things for us without realizing it. The primary things that they do is that they eat seeds from plants and then they wind up pooping them out in places. So, they are probably our most important seed dispersers. They also are pollinators, so if you like eating fruit and chocolate and drinking coffee, protecting pollinators is super important.”

You can help save the birds by turning your lights off at night, moving plants away from windows, and installing bird-friendly stickers on your windows. You can also go to BirdCast - Bird migration forecasts in real-time to see when the biggest groups of birds are flying through Denver.

Spring migration generally occurs from mid-March to the beginning of June. Fall migration occurs from mid-August to the beginning of November.     

Credit: Dag Peak

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