Protecting birds during migration season

This past month marked the beginning of bird migration season, spanning from Aug. 15 through Oct. 31.

As our feathered friends begin making the trip to warmer climates down south, we’ve recently learned that an unexpected partner plans to take steps to protect them during their flight.

After consultations with the Audubon Society of Minnesota and other stakeholders, the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority recently announced that the new Vikings stadium will turn off their lights in the evenings during migration season to protect birds from fatally flying into what will be the largest windows in the state.

The new stadium will boast five 95-foot-high retractable glass doors, but with its location sitting in close proximity to the Mississippi River corridor — a busy migration route — there is serious potential for birds to fatally fly into the glass or become disoriented by bright lights. It’s my hope that the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority’s recent announcement will dramatically reduce the probability of that happening.

In 2009, I received an award from the Audubon Society of Minnesota for authoring a bill that takes the same steps to protect migrating birds. Now law, Minnesota Statutes 16B.2421, the bill requires occupants of state-owned or state-leased buildings to turn off their lights between midnight and dawn during the two migration seasons of the year, March 15 through May 31 and Aug. 15 through Oct. 31.

I urge local governments and private corporations to take the same initiative being seen at the new Vikings stadium to protect migrating birds and the benefits they bring to our ecosystem. It’s important that we be good stewards of the land, water and air around us, as well as all the creatures that inhabit them.