Lights Out Denver set to find out if downtown skyscrapers are killing birds

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DENVER — The evening skyline in Denver can be a beautiful thing to look at — but not everyone feels that way.

On Monday, volunteers and city employees with the Lights Out Denver campaign sought to find out if skyscrapers, such as glass buildings or structures with lights left on in the evening, are causing birds to crash and die.

“The birds will come and fly around to try and figure out where they are and either they will fly into a building or they will get so exhausted they will end up on the ground,” said Polly Reetz with the Denver Audobon Society.

Denver is in the midst of an annual migration of birds from north to south — which occurs above the Mile High City.

Volunteers for the first time are trying to find how many birds crash into buildings by walking around downtown in the early-morning hours. Birds typically fly at night.

“In the six weeks we’ve been doing this, we have found a total of 22 birds,”  said Vicki Vargas-Madrid with the Department of Parks and Recreation.

Vargas-Madrid said the goal is to find out how many birds are dying and then go to the management of downtown buildings and encourage them to turn off the lights during the migration season.

“That is our goal and, hopefully, that will minimize the number of birds we are finding on the streets,” Vargas-Madrid said.

The latest movement in Denver is just the latest “save the birds” movement nationwide.

“We have lost about a third of our bird populations,” Reetz said.

“Birds are a really good indicator of environmental quality so when bird populations drop there is a good chance something is going on that we will be impacted by.”

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