For birds and other species, too-bright nights are a matter of light and death - but there's an easy way for humans to help, say ecologists.
Off the coast of Australia, birds like the short-tailed shearwaters migrate at night, following patterns from the dusk, moon and stars. They're also attracted to artificial light, says a group of Spanish and Australian ecologists. Birds traveling at sea for the first time are most likely to be confused by streetlights, and can end up stranded after following the wrong glow.
Over a 15 year period, the scientists tracked 8,871 young birds near an Australian island. Close to 40 percent of the fledglings they encountered were dead or dying, grounded and then struck by cars - most frequently on cloudy nights, when the only source of illumination was human-made But there's a simple enough solution: turn off the lights, the scientists report Wednesday in the journal PLOS ONE. "Turning the road lights off decreased the number of grounded birds," the researchers say.