Strategies to help eliminate bird strikes

The first bird strike recorded was by the Wright brothers in 1905. Wilbur Wright was flying over Huffman Prairie in Dayton, Ohio, when he encountered flocks of birds on two rounds of his flight.

He later recorded, “Chased flocks of birds on two rounds and killed one, which fell on top of upper surface and after a time fell off when swinging a sharp curve.”

The first fatal bird strike was in 1910 when Calbraith Perry Rodgers flew into a flock of gulls, hit them and plunged into the surf some 500 feet from the spot where he was supposed to land.

Why Planes and Birds Collide

Bird strikes usually take place at low altitudes while planes are landing or taking off. It is in these areas that flocking birds are encountered.

Most accidents occur when the bird hits the windscreen or flies into the engines, according to officials with BirdBGone. These cause annual damages that have been estimated at $400 million within the United States of America and up to $1.2 billion to aircraft worldwide.

These collisions usually occur near or on the airport grounds. Most airports are built in areas that are away from human habitation, along waterways, beaches, and inland areas with a lot of space for birds to take up residence.

How to Manage the Bird Population

There is really no one answer to the question of how to get rideof birds near an airport. Each situation will be unique, requiring a different bird control product and maybe even several products to be effective, according to BirdBGone officials.

Habitat Management

It is key to first look around the airport to determine where the birds are congregating. Are there readily available food sources, shelter and protection from predators?

It is also a good idea for airport maintenance to look at what is around the airport. Are there marshes, ponds or grassy areas? These are ideal locations for geese and other waterfowl to congregate.

A flock of geese living on the outskirts of an airport can be extremely hazardous. On Jan. 15, 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 was struck by a flock of Canada Geese during its takeoff from LaGuardia Airport. The plane lost engine power; the pilot was forced to ditch the plane in the Hudson River. Luckily there were no fatalities in this incident with pest geese.

Using Goose Repellents

If geese are an issue on the airport lawns using a liquid goose repellent will send them hunting for a better place to eat. Canada Geese eat a variety of grasses; and with each goose being able to eat up to four pounds of grass per day, this creates about three pounds (per goose) of fecal matter daily.

Not only are they a hazard to airplanes, but the mess they leave behind can also be a hazard to humans on the ground. Goose droppings can be a slip and fall hazard on golf courses, parks, play grounds and other areas geese are present. The liquid goose repellent makes the grassy areas and surrounding shrubs inedible to geese. The goose repellent is not toxic; it is safe to use around people and pets. The active ingredient in the liquid repellent is a non-toxic grape extract – Methyl Anthranilate. The extract irritates birds’ trigeminal nerves and mucous membranes. Geese do not like the sensation caused by the extract and will avoid the area being treated.

Using Sound to Scare Geese Away

Sound bird deterrents use the birds’ instincts to scare them away from open spaces. Recorded bird distress calls are broadcasted along with predator bird calls; when the birds or geese hear these sounds, their natural instinct is to flee the area. Birds hear sounds in the same range as humans. This makes sound producing Sonic Bird Deterrents the ideal choice for open areas as those found around airports. Sound bird deterrents that are solar powered make the perfect choice for large open areas as you do not need to have a power source available.

It is often recommended to use an integrated approach to goose control or bird control. It may be necessary to use more than one product to keep the pest birds away.

An airport may need to first trim away all accessible vegetation that the geese like to nibble on, spray the lawn and shrubs with a liquid goose repellent and install the sound bird deterrent to scare them away.

To help prevent future bird strikes, airport maintenance crews will have to keep an eye on where flocks of birds are, what they are doing and know how to move them along, without coming into contact with airplanes.

Founded in 1992, Bird-B-Gone produces a variety of bird deterrents.

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  1. Charles R. Wirt says

    Not that it changes anything but “birdstrike” really means aircraft striking bird, not the other way around. The bird is just minding his/her own business, just busy being a bird. They don’t fly into engines, they just couldn’t get out of the way fast enough. They are generally NORDO, their TCAS isn’t set up for airplane speeds and airplanes don’t have parts that visibly move. Same thing with an animal in the road, the car doesn’t gallop like a dog, it’s just on them before they realize the car is rapidly getting much bigger.

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