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. A photo of police officers sealing off trash bins prior to the Tokyo Marathon in Tokyo in 2015.
    Life

    Carefully, Japan Reconsiders the Trash Can

    The near-absence of public garbage bins in cities like Tokyo is both a security measure and a reflection of a cultural aversion to littering.

  2. An illustration of the Memorial Day flood in Ellicott City, Maryland.
    Environment

    In a Town Shaped by Water, the River Is Winning

    Storms supercharged by climate change pose a dire threat to river towns. After two catastrophic floods, tiny Ellicott City faces a critical decision: Rebuild, or retreat?

  3. Cars sit in a crosswalk.
    Transportation

    What if More People Could Issue Parking Tickets?

    Washington, D.C., considers training a group of residents to give tickets for some parking violations. Would it make streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists?

  4. A line of stores in Westport, Connecticut
    Equity

    Separated by Design: How Some of America’s Richest Towns Fight Affordable Housing

    In southwest Connecticut, the gap between rich and poor is wider than anywhere else in the country. Invisible walls created by local zoning boards and the state government block affordable housing and, by extension, the people who need it.

  5. Environment

    A 13,235-Mile Road Trip for 70-Degree Weather Every Day

    This year-long journey across the U.S. keeps you at consistent high temperatures.