Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Fatal Light Awareness Program

So I promised a post on what the members of the organization F.L.A.P. do. Last Friday, I woke up insanely early to make it downtown to volunteer (I haven't went back since, mostly because I've been busy with job-hunting)...once I have my metro pass I might be able to make it down a few more times.

F.L.A.P. is looking to Toronto businesses to turn out their lights at night to reduce the number of fatal collisions by migrating birds. Passerines experience a change in metabolism around spring and fall along with weather changes and migrate. Most migrate at night. During this migration, the birds are lured towards bright lights, so Toronto is an obvious problem. Birds will often collide with windows because of their transparency, or they will get confused and exhausted on the streets, unable to escape the city borders. F.L.A.P. organizes volunteers to search the downtown core an hour before and an hour after dawn to save any birds that are still alive, as well as record and keep any birds that are found dead. This provides important statistics for research into problems caused by specific buildings and general trends. The organization has had some success but continues to fight. In fact, Toronto is the first city in North America to officially adopt migratory bird policies.

What needs to be done? Well, you can volunteer or donate by visiting the F.L.A.P. website. They are currently working on businesses downtown to get them to turn out their lights or install reflective glass that will prevent bird collisions. Unfortunately, those black silhouettes of hawks just don't work. I find it surprising that so many of these buildings leave their lights on anyway, as it must crank up the energy bill. At a time when climate change discussion has entered the public domain, Toronto could become a leader in turning out the lights at night whenever possible.

On my trip downtown to help out, we found the following birds dead: Swainson's Thrush, Wood Thrush, Magnolia Warbler, and Bay-breasted Warbler. Only one bird was found alive, a tiny Tennessee Warbler, which will be released on the Southwest side of the city to continue on in its migration.

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