Every year from sunset on September 11th to sunrise on September 12th, the lights of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum’s Tribute in Light are turned on in remembrance of the lives lost during the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001. Beams from eighty-eight 7500-watt bulbs cast light skyward in two towering pillars as high as the eye can see, noticeable for a 100-mile radius around New York City. And it’s not just people that take notice: nocturnally migrating birds are attracted and disoriented by the lights. At times a close look can reveal tens of thousands ceaselessly circling through the beams. In a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), “High-intensity urban light installation dramatically alters nocturnal bird migration,” authors from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Oxford University, and New York City Audubon quantify the impact of this light installation on nocturnally migrating birds using radar, acoustics, and visual counts archived on eBird. Read more.
What if, instead of buying habitat, conservationists could rent it when and where migratory birds need it most? eBird data is playing a critical role in helping make this a reality, enabling new cost-effective approaches to complementing protected areas with ‘pop-up’ wetlands. This work has just been published in Science Advances, “Dynamic conservation for migratory species.” To pinpoint where and when migrating shorebirds most need habitats in California’s Central Valley, scientists at The Nature Conservancy, Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Point Blue Conservation Science used models based on eBird data on shorebirds and NASA satellite data on surface pattern of wetlands and flooded agricultural fields.