Great Lakes Days

It has become traditional in Michigan for the Governor to proclaim Safe Passage Great Lakes Days during the spring and fall bird-migration seasons each year, supporting the need to prevent deaths of night-migrating birds.

Governor Snyder has continued this tradition, and his Proclamation for 2013 can be viewed.

With the policy of turning off lights, and the Governor’s Proclamation, the State of Michigan is an outstanding leader in the Safe Passage effort, and we can be very proud of Detroit Audubon’s role in fostering this leadership.


At the State of Michigan’s official Earth Day event in Lansing on April 18, Detroit Audubon’s Safe Passage Great Lakes Committee presented a Certificate of Recognition to the State. This action was in recognition of the State’s policy that lights must be turned off by 6 p.m. in all State buildings.

While the primary impetus for this policy may be to save money, it also prevents many night-migrating birds from being killed by crashing into these buildings. Turning off the lights also reduces the amount of pollution from coal-fired power plants needed to provide electricity for the lights, which leaves our environment a little cleaner. The State thus supports what we like to call a win-win-win idea.

Committee members Rob Duchene, Rosemarie Fielding, and Doris Applebaum traveled to Lansing to present the Certificate.

The Safe Passage Great Lakes team recommends that homeowners also take steps to safeguard against bird/window collisions. See this article in the April 23, 2013 issue of BirdWatching Magazine for a comprehensive list of available products and tips for making your windows bird friendly.

The Safe Passage Great Lakes project works to reduce the incidence of collisions of night-migrating birds with illuminated buildings in this area. The number of birds killed in these nighttime collisions runs into the millions. We contact managers of buildings five stories or higher to advise them of the economic and environmental benefits of turning lighting off on their top floors during migration seasons.

More information

CBS 62 Chief Meteorologist Jim Madaus talked to Rob Duchene of the Detroit Audubon Society about a problem facing migratory birds.

The conversation is part of a story aired on First Forecast Mornings on CBS 62 and CW50 on Wednesday, June 27

Safe Passage on the Radio

Rob Duchene from the DAS Safe Passage committee was recently interviewed regarding the Safe Passage Program on the Craig Fahle show on WDET (101.9) Wednesday August 31.

A link to the segment can be found here

The Craig Fahle Show

Bird strike videos from Wisconsin Public Television

Video 1

Video 2

Link to Google Map of U.S. cities with lights out programs

New Safe Passage Brochure

View the New FLAP Video Here

Here are 15 products that can help prevent window strikes thanks to Bird Watching Magazine. CLICK HERE

ABC Bird Collision Solutions

For Home windows


Safe Passage Great Lakes Update

By Fred Charbonneau

Rob Duchene and I took a late night tour of downtown and midtown Detroit on May 26 to see how many buildings were turning off lights above the 5th floor. We observed 28 tall buildings and were pleasantly surprised to see that 23 were in compliance or substantially so. Most of the buildings we observed are not on our Safe Passage Honor Roll, which is not only encouraging, but an opportunity to reach out and see if they are interested in being added to the list. It matters not if their motive for turning off the lights is bottom line or safe passage, the birds are the beneficiaries in either case.

Much of the credit for this success is due to the Building Owners and Managers Association for encouraging their members to observe the program as well as the governments of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties, the Michigan House of Representatives and the cities of Southfield and Mount Clemens for their resolutions in support
of the program. Governor Jennifer Granholm issued a proclamation designating (March 15 through May) and (August 15 through October) as Safe Passage Great Lakes days in 2006 and renewed the proclamation every year through 2010. We will be asking Governor Snyder to continue in this tradition and hopefully some day, the legislature will make that designation permanent.

In addition to our efforts, Michigan Audubon Chapters in Ann Arbor and Jackson have also started programs. Eleven buildings in Jackson are participating in the lights out campaign. The Grand Rapids Bird Club has taken the program under consideration, but so far to our knowledge, no active campaign is under way.

We are well aware that getting the lights out is only the beginning of what must be a continuing effort to build support on many fronts. In addition to lighted buildings, other man-made structures also kill migrating birds in enormous numbers: communications towers, poorly sited windmills, clear glass and outdoor cats (both feral and domestic) wreak havoc on bird populations. Loss of habitat is the greatest threat of all and one that is maybe the furthest from our public consciousness.

The latest issue of the American Bird Conservancy’s Newsletter Birdcalls has an editorial: “Cumulative Mortality: How Many Dead Birds Is Too Many?” I hope we can get permission to reprint it in our next issue. It will still be relevant to the problems we will have to face in the foreseeable future and beyond. Your Detroit Audubon Society will continue to work on these issues with your support.

You can help prevent these collisions with your windows. Solutions are available for a range of prices, from bird-safe films to simple but effective do it yourself measures. The ABC has produced an excellent leaflet you can see. You can download a copy for reproduction and distribution HERE

Governor Snyder’s proclamation, designating March 15 to May 31 and August 15 to October 31 as Safe Passage Great Lakes days, was issued for 2013.

The City of Southfield issued a resolution of support for Project Safe Passage, encouraging business owners, building owners and property owners to cooperate with the program.

State Rep. Lisa Wojno of Warren introduced House Res. 89, a resolution in support of the program. HR89 is in the Great Lakes and Environment Committee, chaired by Rep. Rebekah Warren. We are hoping for Senate sponsorship, but have not yet received confirmation from Sen. Olshove.

During a night drive through downtown Detroit in early June, I was encouraged by the number of buildings that were dark above the lower stories, but display lights on some of the roofs are still a problem that needs to be addressed.

By the time you receive this, the spring migration will be in progress. While we have achieved a measure of success in our efforts, much remains to be done. According to Winging It (the newsletter of the American Birding Association), Jonathan White Jr. of the American Museum of Natural History, after studying specimens brought to the museum over several years, has concluded that many more dead birds were found during autumn than during spring migration. We need to keep this in mind as we move forward to educate and motivate our membership and the public to get involved in making the changes needed to stop the needless loss of so many migrating species.

kenneth_herdy_flap2Photo courtesy of Kenneth Herdy

These birds were picked up by FLAP volunteers during Spring & Fall 2009 migration through Toronto at only a handful of buildings.

Although the success of the ‘lights out’ aspect of Safe Passage will mark a significant milestone on the road to the larger task before us, major hazards such as communication towers, windmills and clear glass in our homes and office buildings will need to be addressed, as Dr. Klem and Dr. Gehring have demonstrated with their pioneering research efforts.

The loss of habitat will continue to be a leading cause of the alarming decline in avian populations. Feral and domestic ‘outdoor’ cats account for as many avian fatalities as the other threats. We need the support of our membership to help monitor compliance and motivate their friends and colleagues to participate in making our environment safe for future generations of our fellow creatures as well as our own species. Please consider volunteering in this effort.

Safe Passage By Joe Bartell

New Safe Passage Brochure

Appeal to building owners

Project Safe Passage Flyer–What You Can Do

Sierra Club Endorsement

DAS Receives Safe Passage award from Michigan Audubon

Proclamation of support from Governor Snyder

Switching Tower Lights Could Save Birds
Emily Sohn, Discovery News

Habitat-A Reflection
By Fred Charonneau

Jackson Citizen Patriot 4-28-2008

Birmingham Eccentric 3-18-07

Window Alert static cling decals.


In September, the DAS Safe Passage Great Lakes program recognized Chrysler Group World Headquarters and Technology
Center in Auburn Hills as the newest addition to its honor roll of buildings turning out the lights during migration season. Birds and companies alike benefit from the program.

“Preservation of the natural environment is … a key component of our sustainability strategy,” said Gregory M. Rose, Director—
Environment, Health & Safety and Sustainability, Chrysler Group LLC., in the company’s press release. “In addition to reducing the hazards faced by birds during migration, turning off the lights in our facilities at night helped contribute to the 17 percent reduction in energy use we achieved in 2011 compared with 2010.”


Detroit Audubon Society presents Chrysler Group with Safe Passage Great Lakes certificate of recognition. From left to right: Frank Zaski, Doris Applebaum, and Fred Charbonneau, Detroit Audubon Society; Greg Rose, Director–Environment, Health & Safety and Sustainability, Chrysler Group LLC; Glenn Hoffrichter, Senior Manager–Facilities Planning & Business Services, Chrysler Group LLC.

Detroit Audubon Society presents Chrysler Group with Safe Passage Great Lakes certificate of recognition.
From left to right: Frank Zaski, Doris Applebaum, and Fred Charbonneau, Detroit Audubon Society; Greg Rose, Director–Environment, Health & Safety and Sustainability, Chrysler Group LLC; Glenn Hoffrichter, Senior Manager–Facilities Planning & Business Services, Chrysler Group LLC.


What good news that is! DAS is very pleased to know that Chrysler is determined to be environmentally responsible and we welcome the corporation to our Safe Passage family.


Safe Passage Great Lakes Honor Roll

The following buildings have agreed to implement Project Safe Passage Great Lakes by turning out their lights between the hours of 11:00 P.M. and Dawn during the fall and spring migration periods. It should be noted that certain lights may not be turned off due to circumstances beyond the control of the operators, such as code requirements or tenant rights.


Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan

Brewery Park

Buhl Building

Building Owners and Managers Association of Metropolitan Detroit (BOMA)

City of Mt. Clemens

City of Southfield

Chrysler World Headquarters and Technology Center

Coleman A. Young Municipal Building
Detroit Opera Company

DTE Energy
Ford Motor Company

General Motors LLC

Kelly Services, Troy MI

Macomb County Board of Commissioners

Oakland County Board of Commissioners

PNC Bank Center, Troy MI
State of Michigan Government Buildings

Wayne County Board of Comissioners

Wayne State University


Jackson, Michigan Buildings:

The Blake Building

First Baptist Church

Elaine Apartments
Nelson Towers
Jackson City Hall

Jackson County Tower Building

Consumers Energy, One Energy Plaza

Consumers Energy Environmental Laboratory Services

Foot Hospital Buildings, North East Ave. and One Jackson Square

If you live or work where you can monitor compliance or can contact your building management or draw your own blinds at night, please contact the DAS office by phone (248) 354-5804, by mail (24433 W 9 Mile Rd. Southfield, MI 48033), or by e-mail ( and leave your contact information. We’ll be in touch.


Links with more information:

FLAP–Fatal Light Awareness Program

National Public Radio–Windows: A Clear Danger to Birds

National Audubon–Minimizing Window Collisions

National Audubon–Clear and Present Danger

Birds and Buildings–Information and Resources–A Building Less Bright