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Active Bird Control

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Article Information
Category: Bird Strike Bird Strike
Content source: SKYbrary About SKYbrary

Definitions and Examples

Passive bird control implies methods and measures to prevent birds from being in the vicinity of the aerodrome by making it less attractive. Examples of passive bird control include installation of deterrents such as wires across ponds and spikes on ledges as well as the removal nesting and feeding habitats such as ponds and long grass.

Active bird control strategies are methods and measures that encourage the birds leave the vicinity of the aerodrome. Examples of active bird control include harassment by chemical, audio or visual means, and, in some circumstances, might include the use of trained birds of prey or other forms of population control.

Active Bird Control Techniques

  • Distress calls – many birds react strongly to audio signals that indicate danger, distress or death. Loudspeakers on a vehicle are usually used to broadcast these signals.
  • Pyrotechnic bird scaring cartridges – also known as “shell crackers”, these are usually shotgun cartridges with the shot replaced by a projectile containing an explosive charge and delayed fuse/light trace.
  • Manual dispersal – many birds are fearful of man, especially those that are commonly shot as pests. Simple acts like leaving a vehicle or waving arms may be sufficient to drive birds away when pyrotechnics are undesirable and other options require more time.
  • Lures – throwing a leather pad with an attached wing or a similar device (lure) high into the air so that it falls on the ground in the vicinity of the birds often causes flocks to fly up and directly away. They react as if the lure is an individual in trouble.
  • Lasers – requirements and recommendations for the use of lasers at aerodromes are laid down in relevant documents. Appropriate measures should be taken so that there is no interference with flights and air traffic control.
  • Population control – this is done either by using trained birds of prey such as falcons, shooting the birds or collecting their eggs. Effectiveness depends on many factors such as the species, the time of the year (migration, breeding period), etc.

Considerations and Recommendations

  • Measures for bird control are often species-specific.
  • Successful active bird control is a complex system comprised of procedures, specialised equipment and properly trained personnel. It requires coordination and cooperation amongst the different units operating at an aerodrome.
  • Analysis of bird strikes should be undertaken at least annually as a part of the risk assessment process. Recording data in a “bird log” provides an opportunity to assess and evaluate fluctuations in bird occurrences in different areas of the airfield.
  • Birds should be dispersed as quickly as possible since even small numbers of them mean that there is food available or that there is a safe place to rest. These factors cause more birds to join.
  • Reliance on air traffic controllers or the airfield operations centre for bird detection is usually ineffective. Small numbers of birds are easily missed or not reported and the time between the report and the response is sometimes too long.
  • A properly trained and equipped bird controller should be present on the airfield a sufficient time before aircraft departure or arrival to ensure any bird risk has been mitigated.
  • At night, active runways and taxiways should be checked for the presence of birds at regular intervals, and dispersal action should be taken as needed.

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Further Reading