What to Know
- Bird strikes continue to happen at NYC's three area airports 10 years after the Miracle on the Hudson
- Last year there were 505 bird strikes at Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty International airports
- Biologists are trying to reduce the bird population around the area’s airports to prevent bird strikes and to make flying safe
Ten years after the Miracle on the Hudson, bird strikes continue to plague New York City's three area airports, despite efforts to mitigate the bird population.
Last year, there were 505 bird strikes at Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty International airports, according to the most recent statistics. Since 2009, there have been 5,048 bird strikes in total.
"We have a lot of strikes all throughout the year," said the Port Authority’s chief wildlife biologist, Laura Francoeur. "But most result in no damage and no impact to the aircraft, many times they don’t even know they struck anything."
Francouer's job is to reduce the bird population around the area’s airports to prevent bird strikes and to make flying safe.
"We have a lot of strategies," she said. "We try to exhaust all the non-lethal methods before using euthanization."
Francoeur took the News 4 New York I-Team for a ride around Kennedy Airport recently to show the methods they use to decrease the bird population to make takeoff and landing safe.
Canada goose, Atlantic brant, herring gulls, starlings are some of the birds that they target, according to Francoeur.
"The location right on Jamaica Bay makes it a bird-rich environment so there’s always a lot of activity going on," according to Francoeur.
Francoeur uses bird traps to capture birds near the runways. Some are relocated while others are euthanized. But she also uses other repellants like paintball guns, noise guns and lasers.
"While we see a green spot from the laser, the birds see a big green beam of light coming at them," she explained. "It doesn’t harm them but it scares them away."
Since Sully Sullenberger landed his plane on the Hudson River, there have been a few notable bird strikes, but none have been catastrophic. Francoeur measures the program’s success not just based on the number of bird strikes, but how damaging they are.
"Do the strikes involve species we are targeting? Are they increasing or decreasing? If they are increasing then we need to do something about that."
A few years ago, the FAA tested avian radar use at Kennedy Airport, but a lead researcher on the study found it was not proven that the radar could decrease bird strikes at Kennedy.