Wildlife Damage Management, Internet Center for


Date of this Version

November 1979


The bird-aircraft strike hazard is a world-wide problem resulting in human fatalities and aircraft damage. Although the exact cost of bird damage is difficult to obtain, United States Air Force losses are estimated at over $10 million per year (Harrison 1976). Collisions between birds and aircrafts occur either enroute or when planes are landing or taking off at airports. Most of these collisions are due to large flocks of birds attracted to the vicinity by food, shelter, or water (Solman 1971). Solid waste disposal sites are an abundant food source for many hazardous bird species, especially gulls and blackbirds; and if these sites are located near airports, they constitute a major cause of bird-aircraft collisions (Davidson et al. 1971). Thus information on the attractiveness of birds to solid waste disposal sites is important and may lead to a reduction in the number of bird-aircraft collisions. To date most studies have been conducted on open dumps and sanitary landfills because these were the commonest method of waste disposal. (See Forsythe (1976) for reviews of these studies.) However, the technique of milling or shredding solid waste has recently begun to replace other methods; and this trend will probably continue in the future. With the exception of a survey of 22 milling sites in Europe (Ham and Reinhardt 1973), little is known about the attractiveness of shredded material to birds potentially hazardous to aircraft. Hence data are needed on the attractiveness of shredded refuse to birds, so that a potentially hazardous bird-aircraft collision problem can be avoided if plans are made for the placement of shredded solid waste sites near airports.