As the nation gathers to reflect on the terrorist attacks that happened on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, thousands of birds will be embarking on their migratory path south for the winter.
While some may find symbolism in the two coinciding, others want to make sure that the ceremonies can be held in such a manner that humans are able to honor those who died while not disrupting the birds’ migration instincts.
According to an article in the Huffington Post, the bright lights associated with ceremonies, such as the Tribute in Light in New York City, where two squares of 7,000-watt lights will be projected into the city skyline, can confuse the birds.
Here is what Andrew Farnsworth, of Cornell University's Lab of Ornithology and a new project called BirdCast, had to say in the article:
"Part of the issue is extremely bright lights really short circuit some of the cues birds use when they are migrating at night," Farnsworth said.
Birds can navigate by a variety of means including sensing the Earth's magnetic field, visual cues including the stars, and even sounds. Bright light, however, overwhelms these. The problem is made worse if light gets trapped by fog or overcast skies — "New York City lights up like a candle," Farnsworth said.
As a result, disoriented birds can collide with one another and with structures.
For these same reasons, officials in the city of Philadelphia, PA, are considering whether to amend a planned art display that involves 24 searchlights being projected into the sky, according to Philly.com. The display is supposed to run from the end of September through mid-October, during peak fall bird migration.
Thus far, the weather in central and eastern Connecticut for Tuesday looks to be crystal clear with a calm wind so any light displays in this area should be OK for the humans and the birds.