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Montreal bridge to be lit blue and green in bid to protect migrating birds


Montreal's Champlain Bridge will be lit up using only blue and green lights to help birds during migration this spring.

Light pollution is a growing problem for birds that are attracted to it and become disoriented.

"The songbirds migrate at night, people don't know that," says bird behaviourist Joel Coutu.

"Larger birds, geese, eagles and hawks migrate during the day, but for songbirds, it's an advantage to migrate at night because you have no hawks around or predators."

White and red lights are the main issue, as those colours attract birds and prevent them from continuing on their journey.

"There was a lot of consultation between various environmental protection agencies, both at the provincial and federal level," says Alexandre Harvey, a member of the group that administers the New Champlain Bridge.

"Bird migration was a big one that was considered, and the phenomenon of light pollution is something that's been more widely recognized in the past years," he says.

Montreal is on a major migratory pathway, and lights attract birds away from their migration routes.

The bridge's size and proximity to several migratory bird sanctuaries made it particularly important to address light pollution, says Harvey.

Coutu hopes others will flock to this idea.

"I think there are more commercial buildings that use so much bright white light that have a much more negative effect," he says.

"I think what they've done in Chicago and Toronto...some people have gone to the owners to ask them to turn off their lights during migration season. They do that in New York City as well."

The blue-green lights reduce the risk of disorienting birds during their migratory period, which runs until June 15.

"They always deserve our respect, and if we can help them, that will help them survive, and we all need our birds," says Coutu. Top Stories

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