Three Planes Struck by Birds Land Safely at LaGuardia Airport

Fifteen bird strikes have been reported this year at LGA, according to the FAA

Three planes landing at LaGuardia Airport struck birds within a four-hour period Wednesday morning, the FAA said. All the aircrafts landed safely and no damage was reported. 

The first plane, an ExpressJet Airlines flight, reported striking a bird while it turned to approach the runway. The bird hit the plane's nose gear, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

Less than two hours later, another ExpressJet Airlines flight struck a bird while taxiing, the FAA said. 

About four hours after the first bird strike, an Air Canada plane reported a bird strike about 12 miles northeast of the airport. It landed safely.

The FAA is investigating. 

Fifteen bird strikes have been reported this year at LGA, according to the FAA, but with September being peak time for migration, this time of year could see more collisions. 

"In September what we're looking at is the birds that have hatched over the summer, plus their parents, so the most birds ever are flying around in September," said Christine Sheppard, a bird collision expert with the American Bird Conservancy.

Birds are also most active in the morning, and LaGuardia's location nestled near the marshlands raises the potential for collisions, Sheppard said.  

"These are all animals that are using the habitat and trying to coexist with planes, and sometimes they're looking at the wrong place at the wrong time," she said. 

Across the country, collisions between planes and wildlife are climbing. In 1990, there were 1,851 reported strikes. In 2013, there were 11,315 strikes. Nearly all the collisions involved birds. 

Despite the growing number of bird strikes, travelers say they're confident airports are doing everything possible to keep passengers safe while also preserving wildlife.

"It's like getting hit by a meteorite -- you can't worry about it," said Pete Hunsinger of Connecticut. 

"We're never going to eliminate the collisions between airplanes and birds, it's just not possible," said Sheppard. "But we can definitely try to reduce it and minimize the impact on both people and wildlife." 

In 2009, a US Airways flight had just taken off from LaGuardia airport when a flock of geese disabled the engines. Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger III safely glided into a water landing in the Hudson River. 

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