Just like a page out of a detective novel or the next episode of “CSI,” National Wildlife Research Center (NWRC) researchers are using forensic science to help unravel the mystery behind bird-strikes. Between 1990 and 2008, more than 87,000 bird-aircraft collisions involving 381 different bird species were reported to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. The most common species struck by aircraft were gulls, doves and pigeons.
By examining struck birds, researchers are learning about bird behavior at the point of collision and whether birds are utilizing anti-predator strategies in response to aircraft. Ninety-two birds from 32 species gathered from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport were necropsied at the NWRC Ohio field station. Across all birds examined, fatal injury locations were generally posterior (backend), ventral (abdomen) and on the left side of the body. Researchers concluded that the birds had taken evasive action in response to the aircraft, reflecting known anti-predator behavior. This information reaffirms other studies and helps in the development of predictive methods to reduce the frequency of bird-strikes. Click here for a copy of the publication. (http://www.aphis.usda.gov/wildlife_damage/nwrc/publications/10pubs/bernhardt102.pdf)