I know bird strikes are a major issue for many airports, and that measures are taken to keep birds away.
There are some obvious things airports can do like not to have any stray garbage, food, etc. in the open, but I'm sure other less obvious methods are also used.

What exactly are some of the widely used techniques to keep birds away from airports?

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    $\begingroup$ Somebody gets to fly falcons, hawks, and an eagle for a living: Feathered fighters defend Pearson Airport’s skies (2011) $\endgroup$ – ChrisW Jan 16 '15 at 15:58
  • $\begingroup$ Near PDX there are fields that Geese like to hang out in. They erected short "fences" of black plastic sheeting, only about 2 feet tall, that run east-west through the fields. I'm told the Geese won't land there because it hinders their vision. Here's a Google maps link that shows them. However, now that I look at the map, I wonder it's this is real - Why doesn't the airport itself have them? $\endgroup$ – Steve Feb 22 '16 at 21:27

The FAA has an FAQ on bird strikes and other wildlife hazards, which includes a (broken) link to their Wildlife Hazard Management at Airports - A Manual for Airport Personnel document.

Chapter 9 is called "WILDLIFE CONTROL STRATEGIES AND TECHNIQUES AT AIRPORTS" and includes the following techniques:

  • Change flight schedules
  • Modify the birds' habitat (food, cover, water)
  • Physically exclude the animals (not so easy with birds)
  • Repel the birds with vehicles, chemicals, sound, visual objects (flags, scarecrows, fake dead animals, lasers)
  • Repel the birds with trained falcons or dogs
  • Shoot nonlethal projectiles at the birds
  • Trap, remove and release the birds at a different location
  • Kill the birds with poison or other means

The document summarizes the various techniques like this:

Habitat modifications to minimize food, cover, and water and physical barriers to exclude wildlife are the foundations of wildlife hazard management programs for airports. In addition, an integrated array of repellent techniques is necessary to disrupt normal behavior and to stress hazardous wildlife that attempt to use the airport. These repellent techniques must be used judiciously and backed by real threats to minimize habituation. To this end, lethal control of selected individuals of common species is sometimes necessary to reinforce repellent actions.


about.com has a good article which lists the many methods that are used to scare birds away from airports. It includes:

  • Modify the habitat: Remove sources of food, such as seed-bearing plants, use insecticides to eliminate insects as a food source, remove bushes and plants that can be used for nesting

  • The use of visual devices (lasers) or audio (sonic cannons, recordings) to scare away birds

  • Trained falcons, dogs, or other predators to make the airport inhospitable to birds.

Another source: Birds at Airports - Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management Bird Control
(Image Source: WikiMedia Commons - Author: Bluescan sv.wiki)

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    $\begingroup$ @raptortech97 I was skeptical at first as well, but they do exist: birdcontrolgroup.com/aerolaser-groundflex $\endgroup$ – SentryRaven Jan 16 '15 at 12:03
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    $\begingroup$ They don't make the birds believe the area is inhabited by predators, they simply make the area inhabited by predators. I remember I read interview with local bird control worker where he said he always lets the hawk kill the prey, otherwise the birds would not fear it. $\endgroup$ – Jan Hudec Jan 16 '15 at 16:06
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    $\begingroup$ @JanHudec So, how do they keep the falcons out of the flight paths? It seems like a falcon or a hawk would be much more of a problem for a jet engine (or any other part of an aircraft) than your average song bird. $\endgroup$ – reirab Jan 16 '15 at 16:37
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    $\begingroup$ @reirab These are trained animals that return when called. "DLH123, caution wake turbulence, landing falcon" ;) $\endgroup$ – SentryRaven Jan 16 '15 at 16:37
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    $\begingroup$ @SentryRaven Do they call them back on the tower frequency? "Falcon 45H, cleared to land 27L." $\endgroup$ – reirab Jan 16 '15 at 16:40

On a visit to Blackpool Airport control tower a few years ago, they mentioned that they flew a hawk/falcon (not sure which) every day to deter birds

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    $\begingroup$ Peregrine falcon would probably always be included as it is best at hunting flying prey, but most likely they have several birds of different species and send the one appropriate to situation. $\endgroup$ – Jan Hudec Jan 16 '15 at 16:11

The airport authorities use a number of techniques to manage the hazard of bird strike in and near airports. These include,

  • Elimination of bird habitats- Birds usually come to the airport area due to the availability of food sources. Denial of food to birds by eliminating the sources (like landfills, garbage, crops, dumps etc) will reduce the chance of birdstirke by eliminating the source.

    It also helps to keep the airport and surrounding areas unattractive to birds (for example, by eliminating water stagnation, vegetation cover etc) as it prevents the birds from nesting there.

  • Scaring them away- A number of airports use a number of bird repellents like pyrotechnics, cannons (mostly just prior to aircraft approach to prevent bird habituation), chemical repellents etc.

    In some cases, specially trained animals (like falcons, dogs etc) have been used to scare away the birds or they are trapped.

  • In some cases, the flight schedule can be altered if bird movement is expected in the area (for example, if the airport is on a bird migration route).

  • The problem can be solved by simply killing the birds in the area, though this drastic step is usually not implemented except in the most extreme cases. In general, the nesting sites of birds are destroyed to prevent them from staying permanently near the airport.

Usually, a combination of above methods is used to manage the birds.

The only procedure available for flight crews is to either delay the flight (or land in alternate runway if its available) in case birds are detected over an area. This however, is dependent on a number of variables like fuel availability, flight schedule etc. There are some radar systems under development that could detect birds; however, these have not reached operational stage yet.


Trap, kill, harass, or deprive them of food and shelter. The number of bird strikes at my airport has been reduced dramatically by consistently harassing the birds to the point where the birds eventually adapt and learn.


All the correct information has been added except one point. The engines nose spinners have a design painted on them. Once the engines are running the design is suppose to look like the eye of a bird of pray to scare off birds in flight. Does it work I can not say but they claim it does.

  • $\begingroup$ "they claim" who? $\endgroup$ – Federico Feb 26 '16 at 7:51
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    $\begingroup$ Related question... Wikipedia, and apparently Rolls Royce, say so. $\endgroup$ – fooot Feb 26 '16 at 21:08
  • $\begingroup$ So that's what those are for. I've always wondered... $\endgroup$ – Sean Apr 24 '18 at 22:29

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