Tag Archives: airplanes

why birds collide with airplanes

In this Boston Globe article Dr. S. Allen Counter — a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, a neurophysiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, and director of the Harvard Foundation — writes about research he did with gulls at Logan Airport just outside of Boston . He looked at how birds hear and transmit sound and had some interesting findings. He found that intense jet noise may interfere with a bird’s ability to hear by over stimulating the bird’s inner ear hearing receptors. The brain wave responses also showed diminished hearing capacity in older birds. So when the gulls are startled by the noise of a jet taking off, they can get disoriented and fly into the path of the plane rather than away from it.

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bird strikes

Everyone is talking about the danger of bird strikes and airplanes today. This has been a problem for planes for years but I guess it took the crash landing of the USAirways flight into the Hudson River for the general public to take this seriously. See this amazing video of the plane landing in the water.

I knew a falconer who flew her birds at JFK as part of a bird control program — that airport has employed falconers for years. This, in addition to altering the habitat so that it’s less attractive to some birds will go a long way toward keeping birds out of the flight paths of planes that are landing or taking off.

Heard an interview on NPR’s All Things Considered with a woman from the feather identification lab at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of Natural History who works on figuring out what kinds of birds hit planes. She  studies the snarge — that’s the bird goo that is wiped off an aircraft after it hits a bird.  Now there’s a job.

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