Volunteer Spotlight: Ben Coleman

Photo: Ben Coleman

How long have you been a FLAP volunteer?

Since about January 2018. I think I first learned about FLAP in late 2016 when one of my classmates in university gave a final project presentation on bird collisions.

In what capacity do you volunteer?

I volunteer as a board member. In addition to studying ecology and evolutionary biology in university, I spent a lot of time learning about governance, serving on the University of Toronto Governing Council and on the student union board. I have also been working in fundraising since I graduated, so it’s a good fit of my interests and skills.

What initially drew you to volunteer with FLAP?

I’m fascinated by urban ecology, and wanted to keep doing something ecology-related after graduating. I developed a deep appreciation for birds while working as a summer student for the Canadian Wildlife Service out in Saskatchewan. One of the things that’s most fascinating about the bird collision issue is that it’s still a very active research area, and we’re still learning more about why birds collide with buildings and what kinds of solutions work (and don’t work) to protect them.

What keeps you motivated?

There’s always more to learn, and new strategies that we can use to protect birds, either by improving our ability to understand the issue, improving the solutions that are out there to treat buildings, or most importantly, changing attitudes in society. FLAP is also full of fun people, and I enjoy being part of its community.

Can you tell me about a particularly memorable or rewarding experience?

The most satisfying experience is always when you can help someone who’s just found an injured bird and is trying to figure out what to do. I’ve had that happen with coworkers and family members recently. Often it opens them up to the bigger issue and they start to notice and become curious about it too.

What’s your favourite bird and why?

I really like the Loggerhead Shrike. I have pictures of it on my computer background at work. It has a fairly varied set of calls that all have a weird robotic quality to them, and it stores its prey on spiked bushes or barbed wire. It’s not very colourful, but it has very elegant black, grey, and white feathers and a cute little bandit mask.

Loggerhead Shrike. Photo: Dan Turko

What would you tell someone who was thinking about volunteering with FLAP?

FLAP is a great organization to be part of, and there are lots of different ways to contribute. Many of our volunteers patrol and rescue birds, but there are also opportunities for people to help with the technological side of things, like with our assessment app and mapper, with fundraising to help support our operations, or even with advocacy and communications.

Interested in volunteering with FLAP? Check out our volunteer page for more information.