Date of this Version
Linnell, K.E., and B.E. Washburn. 2018. Assessing owl collisions with US civil and US Air Force aircraft. Journal of Raptor Research 52(3):282-290.
Collisions between wildlife and aircraft (wildlife strikes) pose notable risks. Previous research has found that a variety of birds and mammals are involved in wildlife strikes, but no comprehensive evaluation of collisions between owl and aircraft (owl strikes) has been conducted. We queried the Federal Aviation Administration’s National Wildlife Strike Database (from 1 January 1990 to 30 June 2014) and the US Air Force’s Birdstrike Database (from 1 January 1994 to 30 June 2014) to characterize owl strikes. We found 2531 owl strikes involving at least 20 species of owls. Barn Owls (Tyto alba) were the most frequently struck species, accounting for 42% of all reported owl strikes. Almost 75% of owl strikes occurred during the night. Owl strikes typically occurred within the airfield environment itself, and 86% of owl strikes occurred when the aircraft was at or below 30 m above ground level. Some mitigation tools and techniques (e.g., nonlethal hazing, translocation, lethal removal) can reduce the frequency of owl strikes, but the efficacy of these methods remains unevaluated. An important area of future research will involve the development and evaluation of effective, publicly acceptable methods of reducing human–owl conflicts.