Action Synopsis: Bird Conservation About Actions

Turn off lights to reduce mortality from artificial lights

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
  • Certainty
  • Harms

Source countries

Key messages

A before-and-after study from the UK found that fewer seabirds (Manx shearwaters Puffinus puffinus, European storm petrels Hydrobates pelagicus and Leach’s storm petrels Oceanodroma leucorhoa) were attracted to artificial lighting and downed when lighting was reduced at night, compared to when normal lighting was in place.


About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A before-and-after study on St Kilda, Scotland, between 2005 and 2008 (Miles et al. 2010) found that fewer seabirds were attracted to artificial lighting and downed when lighting was reduced at night, compared to when normal lighting was in place (27 birds found when lighting was reduced for the whole of autumn 2007 and most of 2008 vs. 54 birds downed and two dead when lighting was not reduced in 2005-6 and 24 downed in 20 days when lighting was not reduced in 2008). Downed birds included 59 Manx shearwater Puffinus puffinus (including all birds downed by reduced lighting), one European storm petrel Hydrobates pelagicus and 45 Leach’s storm petrel Oceanodroma leucorhoa. Lighting consisted of outdoor lights and indoor lights left on overnight with no window coverings.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Williams, D.R., Child, M.F., Dicks, L.V., Ockendon, N., Pople, R.G., Showler, D.A., Walsh, J.C., zu Ermgassen, E.K.H.J. & Sutherland, W.J. (2019) Bird Conservation. Pages 141-290 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, N. Ockendon, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2019. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.


Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

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Bird Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Bird Conservation

What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, terrestrial mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

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