U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version

September 2003


Published by Proceedings of a special symposium of the Wildlife Society 9th Annual Conference. Bismarck, North Dakota.


Bird-aircraft collisions (bird strikes) pose hazards to aircraft and cost civil aviation hundreds of millions of dollars in repairs and logistical expenses annually in the United States. Blackbirds and starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) in particular have caused some of the most devastating aircraft accidents related to bird strikes in the United States and Europe. To determine the impacts of blackbirds and starlings to aviation in the United State, we searched the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) National Wildlife Strike Database for all reported strikes involving these species. During 1990-2001, 1,704 strikes involving blackbirds and starlings were reported to the FAA from 46 states and the District of Columbia. The annual number of strikes increased, 1990-2001. Most strikes occurred during daylight from late spring to early fall. Damage was reported for only 5.9% of the strikes involving blackbirds and starlings, but reported costs totaled $1,607,317. Recommended management strategies for reducing strikes with blackbirds and starlings in the airport environment include removal and pruning of woody vegetation to reduce or remove suitable roosting areas, exclusion of perches, and exclusion of small grain agriculture.