Wednesday, July 13, 2022

It’s A Bird, It’s A Plane

Phillip Elden

Look up in the sky, is it a bird or a plane, or is it both? Unfortunately, the answer is often both. According to Phillip Elden, birds and planes don’t mix, and every year pigeons, doves, shorebirds, waterfowl, and raptors are all at risk of a high-speed collision, and these midair mishaps can put humans in danger as well. 
Going back to as far as 1990, there were nearly 2000 bird strikes per year reported to the Federal Aviation Administration. Fast-forward to 2013, and there were nearly 10 times more. Airplanes are most likely to hit birds during migration season. July through October, birds and their young fledglings are often heading south. This high level of immature flyers is no doubt part of the problem. 

Interestingly, Phillip Elden says that the vast majority of collisions – around 70% – happen at less than 500 feet above ground level. Even at this level, bird strikes can be fatal to humans. Since 1988, birds have caused critical damage to more than 200 aircraft, taking an estimated 255 lives. 
Prevention Is Key 
Fortunately, there are many different solutions to help prevent mid-air collisions. Phillip Elden says that one of these is to take away or block access to water sources near airports. For those areas that already have birds nearby, scare tactics, like pyrotechnics or even having people patrol avian feeding grounds, can help. Phillip Elden also says that bird radar is another option. Like watching for a storm, traffic controllers may be able to tell when there’s a high number of migrating birds in the air. This could lead to a temporary flight delay so that these animals can pass by undisturbed. 
According to Phillip Elden, while the vast majority of the public can’t do much to reduce bird/plane collisions, we can spread awareness and take other steps to keep our feathered friends safe. A few steps you can take to do just that include eliminating the use of pesticides, using plain sugar water for hummingbird feeders, growing plenty of trees and plants, and cleaning your bird feeders regularly.