Is your outdoor light usually on past 11 pm? Officials say that's a terrible idea.

Many Hudson Valley homes have sunlight or motion sensors attached to the outdoor lights that allow them to turn on and off without having to flip a switch. If your house is equipped with automatic lighting, it's possible that you're part of a significant problem that the DEC is currently addressing.

On Friday it was announced that all state-owned and managed buildings have been directed to turn off non-essential outdoor lighting from 11 pm to dawn. The "Lights Out" initiative is aimed to stop a serious problem that is estimated to kill up to one billion birds every year.

According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, birds that breed in and around the Hudson Valley rely on the night sky to help them find their way. Constellations are used by these birds to navigate to summer breeding grounds throughout the region.

Unsplash/Marco Cisneros
Unsplash/Marco Cisneros
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Bright outdoor lighting can cause the birds to suffer from "fatal light attraction." As they attempt to look to the stars to find their way, these birds are quickly disoriented by the artificial lights. The confusion causes the migrating birds to crash into walls, windows and other objects. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that 500 million to one billion birds die each year in the United States because of bright outdoor lighting.

The "Lights Out" initiative will direct state buildings to turn off their lights by 11 pm until the end of the breeding season on May 31. Lights will turn off again during the peak fall migration from August 15 through November 15. The DEC says that shutting off non-essential outdoor lighting will help birds migrate successfully throughout New York.

Google/DEC
Google/DEC
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Just last month, the Hudson Valley segment of the state's birding trail was officially unveiled. It includes 39 locations in six counties where residents can enjoy birding activities.

The Birds Are Back in Town

Find out which birds return to the Hudson Valley in the spring.

WNY's Most Commonly Seen Birds

Most Commonly Seen Birds in WNY