Bird Strike to Aircrafts An Assessment of Changing Bird Populations at Select Indian Airfields
Bird Strikes (BS) are a significant threat to flight safety and a serious economic concern in the aviation industry. Variation of population and activity of different birds over an airfield leads to variation in their vulnerability for Bird Strike as well. In this study, an attempt was made to document the monthly variation of bird activity over three Indian airfields situated in different bio-geographical provinces in the year 2019-20. A significant activity of Black Kites (including the sub-species Black-eared Kite namely Milvus migrans govinda and Milvus migrans lineatus) and Lapwing (Vanellus indicus) were studied to understand their annual cycle as well as long term changes in their activity over airfields (over 30 years). Agra recorded an increase of 10.3 times in the activity of Black Kites in forty years. Black Kite data in correlation with the past information on Vultures indicate that the Black Kites are taking over the ecological niche of Vultures. Sirsa recorded an increase of 15 times in the activity of Red-wattled Lapwings in ten years and started dwindling again. The numbers of both species were stable over the Jodhpur airfield. The probable causes for long-term changes in Black Kite activity were identified as the type of waste management of the cities nearby, presence of other birds and migration. Similarly, changes in the activity of Red-wattled Lapwing could be partly attributed to the type of vegetation cover, long-term ecological changes, and intensive harassment of the bird. These findings will help airfield safety managers to initiate Solid Waste Management projects in the nearby city and monitor the bird population to control the major variations.
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