Painted bunting. Photo courtesy of Lights Out Texas.

Mayor Eric Johnson declared today that for the next three weeks, Dallas residents and businesses should shut off non-essential lights to protect migratory birds.

The “Lights Out Nights,” which run April 22-May 12, are part of the Lights Out Texas initiative, a project once led by former first lady Laura Bush. This timeline represents the critical spring peak migration period for birds.

Residents are encouraged to dim or turn off the lights between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. daily to help prevent birds from being disoriented by urban lights and colliding with buildings.

Almost two billion birds fly across Texas each spring and fall; that’s estimated to be between 25%-33% of all migratory birds in the United States. And the migration typically happens at night.

“Dallas is a global leader in addressing environmental issues,” Johnson said. “And on Earth Day, I am proud to say that the people of our city have made major strides by taking small steps, such as this one, together.”

Another benefit to turning off lights that might come to mind, especially in celebration of Earth Day, is conserving energy.

One way to help protect our planet is volunteering with For the Love of the Lake in its next Second Saturday Shoreline Spruce Up event, scheduled for 8 a.m.-noon May 14.