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The Great Lakes Lights Out Initiative

Migrating birds can’t change their course.

We can.

International collaboration is needed to establish the policies that will protect the world’s birds as they migrate through our cities.

The coastlines along the Great Lakes sit beneath two of the busiest bird migration corridors on Earth: the Atlantic Flyway and the Mississippi Flyway. These vast coastlines serve as landmarks for migrating birds, and as crucial stopovers for food and rest along their journey. One of these stopovers, Point Pelee on Lake Erie, is internationally noted as one of North America's most popular and rewarding birding sites.

Because many species of birds, and especially the small insect-eaters, migrate at night, the cities surrounding the Great Lakes pose a major threat. Nocturnal migrating birds are guided in part by the constellations, and this instinct draws them to the bright lights in urban areas, often with fatal results.

Since 1993, FLAP has joined forces with dozens of environmental organizations, business associations, industry groups, post-secondary institutions, and all levels of government in Canada and the United States to create several conservation programs that represent the first of their kind in the world. The goal is to work together and find progressive ways to protect migratory birds from the hazards of our urban environments.

To date, this initiative has resulted in the Lights Out Toronto! (LOT!) Program and the City of Toronto's Bird-Friendly Development Guidelines. The appeal and success of these programs has attracted positive attention from cities across North America and Europe. FLAP is offering its bird rescue program as a model for use in other cities, like those now operating effectively in New York, Chicago, and Minneapolis and St. Paul. Our partnership with the City of Toronto opens the doors to other cities, their city councils, and to planning and environmental departments all around the Great Lakes.

As new key partnerships are formed, we continue to share our expertise in an effort to promote and expand the Great Lakes Lights Out Initiative: to develop policies that save birds for the world, but that also saves energy and money for the environmentally-conscious cities that participate.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact us at flap@flap.org or call us at (416) 366-3527.