Credit:  Tyler Nordgren
Credit: Tyler Nordgren

A view of York Minster from a side street.“Silent Skies” is an international super-mural mosaic featuring 678 endangered species of birds in the world. 160 members of Artists for Conservation from 15 countries participated in the program. Through the efforts of the St. Louis Arts Chamber of Commerce and members of the “Silent Skies St. Louis” committee, the exhibit will be displayed in St. Louis next spring for six weeks starting on Earth Day, April 22, 2020. The exhibit will feature a super-mural mosaic of 27 panels featuring birds that are endangered. The Gateway Arch, St. Louis Zoo and the Missouri Botanical Garden will each host a portion of the display.

To support the conservation element of the exhibit, a “Lights Out St. Louis” program has been developed to coincide with the art display. The program encourages businesses and the general public to turn off (or at least reduce) lights on their buildings and properties to reduce fatalities of birds during spring migration. The "Lights Out St. Louis" program will encompass additional events such as star gazing, astrophotography and programs to measure the change in sky brightness.

Why is the "Lights Out" Program Important?

Every year, billions of birds migrate north in the spring and south in the fall. The majority of the birds fly at night, navigating using the Moon, stars and night sky. As they pass over big cities, they can become disoriented by bright artificial lights and sky glow. An estimated 600 million birds in the U.S. die each year from collisions with buildings.
A recent study published by Cornell Lab of Ornithology ranked metropolitan areas where, due to a combination of light pollution and geography, birds are at the greatest risk of becoming attracted to and disoriented by lights and crash into buildings. Sadly, the St. Louis metro area ranks #5 on the list of most dangerous cities for migrating birds for spring migration and #6 most dangerous for fall migration.
Our "Lights Out St. Louis" program will place us into good company. The Audubon Society reports some thirty other metro areas hosting their own lights program.

What Other Organizations are Participating?

A growing number of St. Louis area organizations including the Gateway Arch, St. Louis Zoo and the Missouri Botanical Gardens have already agreed to participate in the Silent Skies/Lights Out program. To see the current list of participating organizations, click on the link provided below.

How Can My Organization Participate?

Participation is easy.  

First, agree to take the following actions for the period of April 22, 2020 through May 22, 2020:
  • Turn off unnecessary lighting, especially near the tops of buildings, between 10:00 pm and sunrise when most night migrants are flying
  • Put necessary lighting on timers or use motion sensors
  • Make sure external lighting is down shielded
  • Dim or extinguish lobby or atrium lightings
Second, register with the St. Louis Arts Chamber of Commerce to have your contributions recognized.

How Do I Learn More?

To learn more about the "Lights Out St. Louis" program including how to apply for recognition, please visit the St. Louis Arts Chamber of Commerce "Silent Skies" project page.

We hope that participating organizations will take the "Lights Out" steps even further by adopting these actions throughout the year.

How Can The General Public Participate?

We encourage the general public to participate in the project by taking the same actions as noted above for organizations and by spreading the word to friends and neighbors. The inappropriate or excessive use of artificial light – known as light pollution – can have serious environmental consequences for humans, wildlife, and our climate. Learn more about the consequences of light pollution at the website of the International Dark-Sky Association.

More Information

The following are the current member organizations of the "Silent Skies/Lights Out" working committees:

Related articles/websites:


For questions, please contact Sandy Brooks of the St. Louis Arts Chamber of Commerce. You may also visit the contact us of this website and we will attempt to assist you.