ABIA officials trying to reduce plane vs. bird collisions

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — At Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, around 115 bird strikes have been reported this year with barn swallows making the top of the list. That number is up from 2020 when only 89 bird strikes were reported as the COVID-19 pandemic shut down airports and kept airplanes grounded.

However, in 2019, there were 175 bird strikes, slightly up from the previous year.

A barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) bird is pictured on April 28, 2015 in Barhoeft, Germany. STEFAN SAUER/DPA/AFP via Getty Images

The Federal Aviation Administration reports that “about 53% of bird strikes occur from July to October which is when young birds recently have fledged from nests and fall migration occurs.” The department also states “about 63% of bird strikes with civil aircraft occur in the day, 8% occur at dawn or dusk, and 29% occur at night.”

What are airport officials doing about it? Austin-Bergstrom’s wildlife biologist Chris Moret said there are several techniques to ensure these birds don’t make it onto the runway and in the way of airplanes.

“We have a pretty broad training program on what to do about wildlife,” he said.

That includes firing off an empty cannon, flashing lights and a shotgun to scare the birds away. There is good news this year, Moret reports a lot of the recorded strikes are not strikes. Instead, he said, “most of our strikes are just remains found on the ground documented as strikes.”

Under the guidelines, he must report the dead birds and animals found on the runway as strikes but adds that they are seeing “less pilot generated strike reports for this year.”

Moret and his team will continue to take the steps to keep birds as well as other animals such as coyotes at bay.

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