Volunteer Spotlight: Sally Thomas

Sally rescuing an injured bird during a downtown patrol. Photo: Sally Thomas

How long have you been a FLAP volunteer?

Approximately 10 years.

In what capacity do you volunteer?

Downtown Toronto patroller. I walk around the downtown core for 1-2 hours looking for birds that have collided with buildings. Too often they are dead but enough are alive to keep up the optimism.

What initially drew you to volunteer with FLAP?

When I first started to work downtown in the early 1990s, I stopped at a FLAP booth in the concourse where I picked up a paper bird-shaped information piece about collisions. I had also heard about FLAP before as my sister had done some patrolling. But the booth caught my attention again and for a while I sent out messages in my office about pulling the blinds during migration. As a parent, it wasn’t for many years before I got myself together to wake up early enough to patrol before work.

What keeps you motivated?

Discovering glimpses of the natural world in the sterile environment of the downtown business district was exciting. Later, as I included a lunchtime patrol into my day, it felt like a secret mission, far removed from the rush and busyness around me.

I have recently taken on the role of coordinating the downtown patrol group and our regular sharing of our patrols and bird finds is invigorating and community building. Patrolling can be a lonely enterprise.

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

My first live bird was a Virginia Rail which I found in a small courtyard off of Adelaide Street. It was running about as commuters were walking by oblivious. I was a bit flummoxed until Paloma came to my/our rescue! The rail was later released as part of a news clip which I was able to watch.

What’s your favourite bird and why?

Northern Flicker – their colouring is so stunning.

This Northern Flicker, a window-collision victim, was rescued by a FLAP patroller and taken to Toronto Wildlife Centre for medical care. Photo: FLAP Canada

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

Just do it! Come and join the Downtowners! And it’s not all early morning work, birds are around all day during migration.

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