Why Are The Con Edison Clock Tower Lights Off?

con ed clock tower

photo credit: New York Times

Interesting info provided by Michael Pollak of the New York Times about Con Edison’s clock tower:

Q. I am used to seeing the top of the Con Edison clock tower, off Union Square, lighted up. On April 1, the lights went out and stayed out for quite a while. Was that an April Fools’ joke?

A. Not at all. The purpose was to protect migratory birds in flight.

From midnight until dawn, April 1 to June 1, and again from Sept. 1 through Nov. 1, Con Edison turns off the lights at its 28-story clock tower, at East 14th Street and Irving Place, to help decrease the deaths of migrating birds, who collide with buildings because of the high amount of disorienting artificial light, Robert McGee, a spokesman for Con Edison, said by email.

Scientists are not sure why birds that migrate at night seem to have trouble avoiding bright light sources. “Birds use the stars and moon to navigate, so the extensive light can confuse their natural navigation instincts, often with deadly consequences,” Mr. McGee wrote. “It is estimated that some 90,000 birds die annually in New York City because of collisions with buildings.

“Anyone who lives in a high-rise building can help by turning off lights or pulling down shades in their apartments during the late-night hours. A welcome byproduct of all this is that it saves energy,” Mr. McGee added.

The Chrysler Building, Rockefeller Center, Barclays Center and The New York Times Building are among the more than 50 other participants that turn off or dim their exterior lights at night during the migration periods.