News Release
April 2, 2024

The arrival of spring in Toronto is the start of one of two annual bird migration seasons that sees millions of birds travelling through our city, which serves as an important rest stop during their migration. Unfortunately, Toronto like other urban areas poses dangers to migratory birds – an estimated 25 million birds are killed each year across Canada due to collisions with building windows.

To protect birds during their migration, the City of Toronto has launched the “Lights Out Toronto” campaign – a city-wide campaign to address the issue of migratory bird collisions with building windows in Toronto during the spring (April 1 to May 31) and fall (September 1 to October 31) migration seasons.

The City’s campaign encourages the public to contribute to “Lights Out Toronto” by turning off unnecessary lights – defined as lighting not intended for security or safety reasons – during the nighttime, to reduce fatal bird collisions with buildings. By turning off non-essential lights in buildings, Toronto can be a leader in reducing the number of bird collisions and saving countless bird lives.

Toronto was the first city in North America to officially adopt migratory bird protection policies such as requirements for new development in the city that include bird friendly design for lighting features and glass in the Toronto Green Standard.

As part of the “Lights Out Toronto” campaign, Toronto residents and businesses are encouraged to:

  • Turn off interior lighting at night, especially on higher floors.
  • Close window coverings at night if lights must be kept on.
  • Turn off exterior decorative lighting, pot lights and flood lights when not in use.
  • Substitute strobe lighting and reduce atrium lighting whenever possible.
  • Install automatic motion sensors and controls wherever possible.

More information about the “Lights Out Toronto” campaign is available on the City’s website.

The ”Lights Out Toronto” campaign follows the December 2023 Toronto City Council direction that the City resume the cost-saving and bird-life-saving practice of turning off unnecessary lights on City property during bird migration seasons.

In alignment with Council direction and the City’s commitment to addressing the significant threat of bird collisions with buildings and windows in Toronto, all properties operated by City Divisions, Agencies and Corporations have been asked to follow the annual practice of turning off non-essential lights during the two bird migration periods. Non-essential lighting includes illumination not required for property standards or safety and security purposes. Exceptions for special events or critical operations are permitted.

During their spring and fall migrations, birds are prone to colliding with buildings as they navigate through urban environments, often drawn by city lights and confused by reflections and transparency of glass, leading to fatal collisions. It is one of the top sources of human-caused bird mortality despite being easily preventable. Most collisions are not noticed, so even one injured or dead bird below a window shows there is a problem.

Birds are vital to the ecosystem, playing essential roles such as controlling insect populations, pollinating plants and dispersing seeds. A healthy bird population contributes to Toronto’s ecological balance and biodiversity.

The Lights Out Toronto campaign underscores the City’s commitment to protecting biodiversity by aligning with Council direction, the Official Plan, the Toronto Green Standard and the Biodiversity Strategy. Bird protection policies have been required under the Toronto Green Standard for all site plan applications as of January 1, 2010.

The Official Plan is available on the City’s website.

More information on the Toronto Green Standard is available on the City’s website.

More information on the Biodiversity Strategy is available on the City’s website.

Toronto is home to more than three million people whose diversity and experiences make this great city Canada’s leading economic engine and one of the world’s most diverse and livable cities. As the fourth largest city in North America, Toronto is a global leader in technology, finance, film, music, culture and innovation and climate action, and consistently places at the top of international rankings due to investments championed by its government, residents and businesses. For more information visit the City’s website or follow us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Media contact: Media Relations,