Bird Strike Committee Proceedings


Date of this Version


Document Type



Presented at 2011 Bird Strike North America Conference, September 12-15, 2011, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada.


Copyright 2011 DeVault, Belant, Blackwell & Seamans



  • 70% of all wildlife strikes with aircraft occur atft, where management at the airport can be effective.
  • At least 415 bird and 35 terrestrial mammal species were struck by aircraft from 1990-2009.
  • Overall, 14% of all strikes with birds and 61% of all strikes with mammals caused some damage.
  1. But, the severity and probability of damage is species-specific.
  • To better prioritize management (e.g., habitat management, land-use planning, non-lethal dispersal), an improved understanding of which species are most hazardous is needed.

Research questions

  • Which species are most hazardous?
  1. That is, which species are most likely to cause some type of damage to the aircraft when struck?
  • How do body mass, body density, and flocking behavior contribute to hazard level?

Building on previous research

  • Dolbeer, R.A., S.E. Wright, and E.C. Cleary. 2000. Ranking the hazard level of wildlife species to aviation. Wildlife Society Bulletin 28:372-378.
  1. ~18,000 records in the database
  2. 21 wildlife species/groups considered
  • Dolbeer, R.A., and S.E. Wright. 2009. Safety management systems: How useful will the FAA National Wildlife Strike Database be? Human-Wildlife Conflicts 3:167-178.
  1. Did not use a composite hazard score
  • Zakrajsek, E.J., and J.A. Bissonette. 2005. Ranking the risk of wildlife species hazardous to military aircraft. Wildlife Society Bulletin 33:258-264.
  1. Used the number of damaging strikes and cost as criteria


  • Used FAA National Wildlife Strike Database records: 1990-2009
  1. 99,411 total strikes
  • Summarized strikes for 77 species or groups with ≥20 records
  • Only used strikes ≤500 ft AGL (in the airport environment)
  1. Reduced sample size to 23,503 reports
  • Variables used in ranking
  1. % of strikes with damage
  2. % of strikes with substantial damage
  3. % of strikes with effect on flight (EOF)
  • Species were ranked and a relative hazard score was calculated
  • For birds, we assessed effects of body mass, body density, and group size on relative hazard scores