Salt Lake Avian Collision Survey

Helping birds navigate Salt Lake City by better understanding how nighttime lights and buildings affect their migrations.

WHAT: Conduct collision surveys as part of our team. Sign up for the program and complete online training materials, select a downtown block of your choice as your route, and walk through the area in the morning looking for birds that have collided with buildings over night.

WHO: Open to anyone who enjoys birds or is interested in contributing to scientific research and conservation efforts.

WHEN: Surveys will be done in the morning during peak migration in April and May 2017.

WHERE: Click here to view a map of the routes.


The Salt Lake Avian Collision Survey (SLACS) is a citizen science research initiative with an aim to better understand the impact of Salt Lake City’s light pollution on migratory birds. By surveying urban areas, places that pose some of the greatest risks to migrating birds, we can begin to understand the magnitude of the issue and work to decrease our impacts on Salt Lake’s birds.


A selection of birds that struck buildings in Washington D.C. during the fall of 2013. They were collected and displayed by the Lights Out DC group.

Building collision is one of the leading human-related causes of wild bird mortality. It is estimated that between 365 million and 1 billion birds die in these collisions each year in North America alone. This is an especially big problem for birds that make long-distance migrations throughout the year and have to navigate through a landscape filled with light pollution coming from our cities. Many species of songbirds and shore birds migrate during the night when temperatures are cooler and predators are scarce. Sky glow from cities can drown out their navigational cues, confuse them, or lure them toward the maze of buildings and windows, ending in collision for many. Utah is a hotspot for migratory birds as they return to their breeding grounds at the Great Salt Lake and in the Wasatch Mountains, or as they stop for rest and fuel on their journey farther north. Understanding how the buildings and light pollution of Salt Lake City affects these migrants is critical to ensuring their safety and continued success.


Tracy Aviary is recruiting citizen scientists to assist in gathering data of bird-building collisions and light pollution levels in Salt Lake City. Peak migration occurs throughout April and May when citizen scientists will walk transects of our city’s urban core during the morning to record any incidence of bird-building collision and rescue any stunned or injured birds to be treated by wildlife rehabilitators and released. During the night, ambient light levels will also be gathered to find where light pollution is the greatest. This data will help us as we employ strategies to reduce the risks that our city poses to migrating birds, including a Lights Out Salt Lake initiative which will reduce unnecessary outdoor lighting during peak migration periods.


Even if you aren’t a part of our survey team, please let us know if you have found a bird that you think died as a result of hitting a building. We are especially interested in the following information:

Date that you found the bird
Time that you found the bird
Location (as exact as possible – preferably GPS coordinates or address of the building)
Species of bird (take a picture if you aren’t sure!)
Click the link below to go to our data entry site and report what you found:


Questions? Contact: Cooper Farr:

Learn more about the importance of dark skies for wildlife and human communities from our partners International Dark-Sky Association and Fatal Light Awareness Program.

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