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(WGHP) – It’s migration season! As we begin our transition from summer to winter, millions of birds migrate through the State of North Carolina, mainly under the cover of darkness. 

Bird migration season takes place from mid-August and lasts through the end of November. 

Lights out North Carolina 

Peak migration season is between Sept. 10 and Nov. 30. During that time, North Carolina residents are encouraged to turn their lights off between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. as the birds embark on their journey south. 

Most birds make their annual journeys south at night, so bright lights can confuse them and could leave them off course. 

The light pollution from cities can also attract and disorient the birds which can lead them to collide with buildings, windows, homes, and towers. 

Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center researchers analyzed data from 23 cities estimating 365 million to 988 million birds are killed during migration each year in the United States.

How can you help birds have an easier trip south? It’s simple! Turn off your outside lights, and close your blinds and curtains, between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. from now through the end of November. 

Greensboro, Raleigh and Asheville are a few NC cities that have Lights Out policies. In Winston-Salem and Charlotte, individual buildings have Lights Out policies. 

Studies tell us that just turning off outside lights for the seven-hour period helps bird collisions with buildings drop by 80%. 

Read more about the Lights Out campaign on the Audubon website.

BirdCast lets you track the millions of birds heading south each night here.

What type of birds are migrating? 

According to the North Carolina Audubon, different types of birds migrate south depending on the month. 


In September, the Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Black-throated Green Warbler and Northern Waterthrush can be spotted in the mountains as they begin their departure for the Southern hemisphere. 

In the Piedmont, keep your eyes out for flocks of Chestnut-sided Warbler, Gray Catbird, and Black-throated Blue Warbler. They typically feast on berries as they fuel up for the long journey south. 

Other species to watch out for this month include the Eastern Kingbird, Tennessee Warbler, Baltimore Oriole, Broad-winged Hawk, and the House Wren. 


Some of the most colorful birds begin their journey south in October. These birds include the Swamp Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, and the White-crowned Sparrow. 

A few of these birds may stay in North Carolina through the winter, however some species, like the Indigo Bunting and Blue-headed Vireo, will leave NC during the first half of October. 

The Savannah Sparrow also makes an appearance in the mountains of North Carolina. 

Other species to watch out for include the Northern Parula, Blackpoll Warbler and the Tree Swallow.