St. Louis Arch goes dark to help migratory birds

Regional News

ST. LOUIS — Wednesday afternoon Tom Noonan and his lizard named Gazpacho are stopping through St. Louis on their way traveling east to Ohio.

“He’s on a kind of forced migratory journey,” says Tom Noonen, about traveling with a lizard. “We flew him out the last time and he did not like that experience. So, I drove and thought I can drive with the bearded dragon, but the three cats are flying in.”

While the Noonens move towards their new neighborhood, songbirds are coming through ours right about now.

“It’s peak migration season,” says Erin Hilligoss, Director Education Gateway Arch National Park. “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.”

We first told you about the Gateway Arch going dark in September of 2018 to help save birds traveling through our fair city.

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,” says Hilligoss. “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.

Gazpacho the bearded dragon, well he’ll be migrating east to his new home in Columbus, via an automobile.

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