The avian predators can lessen the threat of other birds colliding with planes.

You can’t fight fire with fire, but you can fight birds with birds.

A new short film from Great Big Story highlights the growing problem of bird strikes—collisions between birds and planes—and a solution that’s been embraced by a number of airports around the world: falcons. The predatory birds “are the great white shark of the sky,” says Mark Adam, the president of Canada-based Falcon Environmental Services, who is featured in the film. “[Other] birds are terrified of them.”

Large fowl such as gulls and geese can severely damage and even take down planes when they fly into engines and windshields, and they routinely cause emergency landings. Trained from birth using millennia-old techniques, falcons are deployed strategically by their handlers to shoo these nuisance birds off of runways. New York, Toronto, Montreal, Sacramento, Belgrade and many other cities have made use of the avian predators on their airfields. Airports also use sirens, pyrotechnics, radar systems, and dogs as bird-strike mitigations. But according to Adam, falcons are particularly effective because they strike the most primal fear into the hearts of other birds.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. photo: A metro train at Paris' Gare Du Nord.
    Transportation

    Can the Paris Metro Make Room for More Riders?

    The good news: Transit ridership is booming in the French capital. But severe crowding now has authorities searching for short-term solutions.

  2. photo: An elderly resident of a village in Japan's Gunma Prefecture.
    Life

    In Japan’s Vanishing Rural Towns, Newcomers Are Wanted

    Facing declining birthrates and rural depopulation, hundreds of “marginal villages” could vanish in a few decades. But some small towns are fighting back.

  3. Design

    How Advertising Conquered Urban Space

    In cities around the world, advertising is everywhere. We may try to shut it out, but it reflects who we are (or want to be) and connects us to the urban past.

  4. Life

    The Zombie Storefronts of America

    If retail is dying, then pop-up shops might be what replace it.

  5. photo: Chilean police clash with anti-government demonstrators during a protest in Santiago, Chile.
    Equity

    What’s Behind the Wave of Urban Protests?

    The slums of the world’s growing cities have become staging grounds for demonstrations against corruption, inequality, and municipal dysfunction.

×