I was surprised to see geese flying some 200 ft above my aircraft at 2000 ft MSL.

I obviously would like to avoid them but I am based too close to the New York City Class B, where there are much bigger, heavier, and faster birds:)

In order to avoid having to get clearance from ATC, I need to fly under the layered minimum altitudes by a safe margin of the upside down cake of the class B airspace.

What is the minimum recommended cruising altitude to avoid bird strikes?

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    $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate of What's the greatest height at which a bird has collided with an aircraft? $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 16:15
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    $\begingroup$ @RonBeyer: I don't think the other question provide elements related to a recommended altitude, it shows birds can be found very high, but it also implies that this is not frequent. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 16:50
  • $\begingroup$ We have a California Condor Nesting Sanctuary near our airport and the sectional asks pilots to maintain 3,000' terrain clearance. And from personal experience, I see hawks and vultures at the 2,000' level all the time so that seems like a reasonable altitude for avoiding large birds. $\endgroup$
    – JScarry
    Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 18:14
  • $\begingroup$ @RonBeyer I'm cooked then, it was at flight level 400, way above the ceiling for my Cessna:) $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 23:26
  • $\begingroup$ @0tyranny0poverty I guess the point is that no altitude is "safe" to avoid bird strikes, as your answer and comments say, the best way is awareness and caution, but you aren't going to reach a safe altitude in a single engine Cessna, especially working under a Class-B shelf. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Commented Jul 15, 2017 at 4:28

1 Answer 1


AIM 7−4−1. Migratory Bird Activity a. Bird strike risk increases because of bird migration during the months of March through April, and August through November.

b. The altitudes of migrating birds vary with winds aloft, weather fronts, terrain elevations, cloud conditions, and other environmental variables. While over 90 percent of the reported bird strikes occur at or below 3,000 feet AGL, strikes at higher altitudes are common during migration. Ducks and geese are frequently observed up to 7,000 feet AGL and pilots are cautioned to minimize en route flying at lower altitudes during migration.

  • $\begingroup$ I guess I have no choice but fly around the nyc class B $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 18:19
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    $\begingroup$ @0tyranny0poverty You just need to be extra vigilant during migration seasons and around locations where birds congregate e.g. ponds, dumps, fishing boats, etc. And maybe become familiar with the birds in your neighborhood. For example, if I see a lone turkey vulture cruising along, I probably won’t see more. But if it is circling, then chances are good that I will see a few more. $\endgroup$
    – JScarry
    Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 18:40
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    $\begingroup$ There are several bird sanctuaries in the NYC area, including Rikers Island, Clason Point Park, Hunts Point Riverside Park or Barretto Point Park. Below the shelf anywhere around The city is going to be possible bird strike area. US Airways 1549 hit the flock of geese around 2800 feet over the Bronx. So the birds had apparently entered the class B without clearance. $\endgroup$
    – TomMcW
    Commented Jul 15, 2017 at 5:57

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