Blue jay with food in mouth

In the spring and fall, many species of birds migrate across North America. Sadly, research has shown that increased light and reflective glass in urban areas causes millions of bird collisions and fatalities each year.

The Akron Zoo has been an active partner in promoting Lights Out Ohio, an organization whose mission is to work with local building managers to modify a building’s lighting and reflective surfaces and reduce dangers to migrating birds (while also maintaining the building’s safety standards and aesthetic beauty). With continued effort from Akron Zoo, Lights Out Ohio was able to establish an Akron-Canton branch in 2018 and set up volunteer collision monitoring efforts in both cities.

The Akron Zoo’s Welcome Center and Komodo Kingdom are both enrolled in the Lights Out program, utilizing dim night lighting and decorative window treatments to make glass more visible to migrating birds. Several habitats at the zoo use the same window treatments for viewing glass, which has already proved to be successful in dramatically lowering the number of deceased birds found on the grounds.

Volunteering with Lights Out

Lights Out volunteers help to collect data on bird collisions and fatalities, which is used to make a case to the City of Akron and building owners that changes should be made to reduce bird deaths. It is estimated that one billion birds die annually in the United States from building collisions alone, and for every one bird that volunteers find dead in Akron, it is likely another nine were killed but were already been eaten, taken away by other animals or simply removed by building maintenance workers.

On scheduled mornings, a team of zoo workers, volunteers to bird enthusiasts walk around Akron's downtown area looking for evidence of bird deaths, especially near the taller buildings. This evidence is used to encourage building owners to simply not light up the exterior of the structures at night, reduce the hours when the lights are on, and encourage new construction to use more bird-friendly lighting schemes and less reflective glass.

There are already a number of buildings that are considered bird-friendly in the Akron area, but we need your help to increase that number and provide a safe city for migratory birds. If you are interested in volunteering with Lights Out, or to learn more about the program, please contact Shane Good at