Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP) Canada

FLAP Canada's mission is to safeguard migratory birds in the urban environment through education, policy development, research, rescue and rehabilitation.

Our Story What We Do

History of Organization

Since 1993, volunteers with FLAP have combed the Financial District of Toronto searching for birds stunned, injured or killed by collisions with lit towers during their nocturnal migration. A few years later, we discovered that daytime collisions with glass is of even greater concern, responsible for the deaths of billions of migrants worldwide. As a result, our rescue zones have increased covering Scarborough, North York, Markham and Mississauga.

We also address this issue at the source, finding creative and cost-effective ways of minimizing the threats to birds presented by night lighting and reflective surfaces on buildings. From our Bird-Friendly Building program launched in 1995 to our collaboration with the City of Toronto which resulted in the launch of the Bird-Friendly Development Guidelines – we work with all sectors of society to safeguard birds.

Accolades and Accomplishments

  • In 2007, FLAP was one of six recipients of the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s Great Grants Awards.
  • In 2008, the Bird-Friendly Development Working Group, of which FLAP was a member, was given the Urban Leadership Award for City Initiatives from the Canadian Urban Institute. The group produced the Bird-Friendly Development Guidelines for the City of Toronto. The guidelines became mandatory for all new construction in 2010.
  • In 2011, FLAP received the J.R. Dymond Public Service Award by Ontario Nature for exceptional dedication to safeguarding migratory songbirds in the urban environment and significantly increasing public awareness of the hazards posed by buildings.
  • FLAP’s pioneering work has been covered consistently in mainstream media and the alternative press. Highlights include a segment on The Nature of Things in 1994 and a showing of the video What’s All The “FLAP” About?! at the 8th Annual Planet in Focus International Environmental Film and Video Festival at the University of Toronto in 2007. 
  • In 24 years of patrols around known collision sites, FLAP volunteers and staff have rescued and released over 25,000 birds.

Our Programs How We Do It

BIRD RESCUE: Coordinated by FLAP’s Program Coordinator, 80 volunteers patrol Toronto’s downtown core and other clusters of buildings in the Greater Toronto Area for birds that have collided with a building. Each bird, alive or dead, is entered into a database which may be used to show the enormity of the problem and the need for preventive measures.

BIRD REHABILITATION: Careful assessment and first aid for injured birds helps them heal after the trauma of striking a building.

EDUCATION: From our website and social networking tools, to media events held at the Royal Ontario Museum to transit ads for Lights Out Toronto! and publications such as Bird-Friendly Cities: Saving Money, Energy and Lives, FLAP Canada educates the corporate & architectural sectors and governments, young people and the public about the dangers that migratory birds face in our built environment and the ways we can protect them.

RESEARCH: Working with architects, designers, window film manufacturers, and environmental groups, FLAP Canada has spearheaded efforts to identify or create techniques and products that prevent bird collisions with buildings, such as the application of window film to outer surfaces of glass.

Coordination of Rescue Volunteers and Bird Safety Education

The coordination of FLAP’s rescue missions is an important responsibility during migration, ensuring that we cover as many potentially hazardous buildings as possible. A wildlife rehabilitator must be called to assess injured birds. Migration Alerts must be sent to building managers in the Bird-Friendly Building Program, urging them to alert their tenants and advertise the start of migration on Elevator News. Training workshops for bird rescuers must be organized each spring and fall during migration seasons. Holding stations in Toronto’s core and other locations must be furnished with bird rescue supplies.

FLAP’s website, our TTC Lights Out Toronto! campaign, media coverage of the annual ROM display of FLAP’s dead birds (attended by school groups) and powerpoint presentations continue to be effective outreach tools. FLAP teaches about the dangers of our built environment for migratory birds whose populations are dwindling. FLAP has recorded 167 species of birds hitting buildings; 21 are classified as Species at Risk in Canada.  FLAP Canada’s aim is to save as many birds as possible through our rescue programs, while contributing to global biodiversity through education and research.

Funding and Program Partners

Ontario Trillium Foundation, TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, Toronto Hydro, Schad Foundation, Echo Foundation, McLean Foundation, Jackman Foundation, J.P. Bickell Foundation, DDB Canada, Erik S. Margolis Family Foundation, Toronto Field Naturalists, Johansen-Larsen Foundation, Earth Rangers

Program Impact

Since 1993, FLAP has recruited and trained over 900 volunteers who have picked up over 75,000 individual birds from 169 species at over 150 buildings in the Greater Toronto Area. Of the 75,000 birds recovered, 25,000 were released back into the wild to continue their migration. The deceased birds are given to the Royal Ontario Museum to distribute them for educational and research purposes. Our education program has reached hundreds of thousands of people – from media coverage to powerpoint presentations made to industry groups (such as architects and building managers), to display booths, talks at schools and naturalist clubs, the Lights Out Toronto! campaign, publications such as our newsletter Touching Down to our website.

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

"Greening Toronto ensures a healthy city for our children's future." 

FLAP Canada strives to sustain populations of native birds including warblers, hummingbirds, woodpeckers, kinglets, and many more who not only beautify our urban environment with their song but also consume immeasurable quantities of insects and diperse seeds which ensures biodiversity. From representing symbols of freedom to inspiring us in spirituality, art, and aviation, birds capture our imagination.

Participant Vignette

"Bird rescue is, simultaneously, deeply satisfying and horrible. Seeing a bird collide with a window brings rage and sadness. Rescuing that bird, treating, then releasing it to continue its life's journey is the most rewarding work I've ever done."  --Merle

What You Can Do

Coordination of Rescue Volunteers and Bird Safety Education

Activities a donation will support

Grants to this program will allow FLAP to reach greater numbers of individuals with our wildlife conservation message through powerpoint presentations to schools, naturalist groups, architects and others who can make a difference.  We will be able to train more rescue volunteers through workshops run by our staff and experienced volunteers.  Further donations will support preparation of migration alerts to building owners and managers, and coordination of rescue volunteers and emergency drivers.  All this translates into more birds rescued and fewer birds hitting buildings.

Donation impact

With financial support, FLAP Canada will be able to recruit and train more volunteers, provide coordination and support for our 110 current volunteers, supply essential first aid supplies and rescue tools, and reach further with our bird conservation message resulting in more birds being saved.

Contact

Michael Mesure
Executive Director
416.366.3527
Charitable Number: 140746736RR0001

Finance & Governance

Annual Operating Budget: 
$ 220,000

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