St. Louis Gateway Arch goes dark to help migratory birds

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ST. LOUIS — Songbirds are traveling up along the Mississippi River on their annual migration, and The Gateway Arch is shutting off its lights to help their journey.

“It’s peak migration season,” Erin Hilligoss, director of education for Gateway Arch National Park, said. “The birds are flying along the Mississippi flyway using the river as kind of a road map. They find places to stop over and get some food and get some rest. So, they’re going to fly right by our great monument the Gateway Arch National Park. So, we’re going to turn off our lights for the first two weeks of May just to keep them from getting disoriented from that upward lighting.”

The plan was first announced in September of 2018. Since then, it’s become a tradition in the fall and spring as birds travel the Mississippi flyway, and the Gateway Arch going dark to help conservation efforts.

“They just get a little disoriented by the upward lighting pointing up to the sky,” Hilligoss said. “So, the lighting confuses them, and it can cause birds crashing into our buildings. So, we want to make sure they face as few risks as possible on their dangerous journey.”

According to the National Park Service and Audubon Society, millions of songbirds are making their way North from South and Central America.

Stopping and foraging for food, the migratory birds are aided by the darkened monument as they travel the windy Mississippi river channel towards Canada.

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