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Picture of the Day

Light's dramatic impact on bird migration

Billions of birds undertake migratory journeys each spring and fall. Most of these spectacular movements go unseen, occurring under the cover of darkness. A new study provides some of the most compelling evidence yet that artificial light at night causes radical changes in the behaviors of migrating birds. Scientists studied migrant bird behavior over seven years in a truly unique setting -- Tribute in Light in New York City, held to commemorate the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack. Two beams of light -- each with 44 xenon bulbs of 7,000 watts -- rise into the night sky, mirroring the twin towers of the World Trade Center where nearly 3,000 lives were lost. Migrant birds’ attraction to light at night is most pronounced in warblers, such as the Northern Parula (shown here).

Visit Website | Image credit: Kelly Colgan Azar/Cornell Lab of Ornithology