Migratory Bird Activity
Bird strike risk increases because of bird
migration during the months of March through April, and
August through November.
The altitudes of migrating birds vary with
winds aloft, weather fronts, terrain elevations, cloud
conditions, and other environmental variables. While over
90 percent of the reported bird strikes occur at or below
3,000 feet AGL, strikes at higher altitudes are common
during migration. Ducks and geese are frequently observed
up to 7,000 feet AGL and pilots are cautioned to minimize
en route flying at lower altitudes during migration.
Considered the greatest potential hazard to
aircraft because of their size, abundance, or habit of
flying in dense flocks are gulls, waterfowl, vultures,
hawks, owls, egrets, blackbirds, and starlings. Four major
migratory flyways exist in the U.S. The Atlantic flyway
parallels the Atlantic Coast. The Mississippi Flyway
stretches from Canada through the Great Lakes and follows
the Mississippi River. The Central Flyway represents a
broad area east of the Rockies, stretching from Canada
through Central America. The Pacific Flyway follows the
west coast and overflies major parts of Washington,
Oregon, and California. There are also numerous smaller
flyways which cross these major north-south migratory
Reducing Bird Strike Risks
The most serious strikes are those
involving ingestion into an engine (turboprops and turbine
jet engines) or windshield strikes. These strikes can
result in emergency situations requiring prompt action by
Engine ingestions may result in sudden loss
of power or engine failure. Review engine out procedures,
especially when operating from airports with known bird
hazards or when operating near high bird concentrations.
Windshield strikes have resulted in pilots
experiencing confusion, disorientation, loss of
communications, and aircraft control problems. Pilots are
encouraged to review their emergency procedures before
flying in these areas.
When encountering birds en route, climb to
avoid collision, because birds in flocks generally
distribute themselves downward, with lead birds being at
the highest altitude.
Avoid overflight of known areas of bird
concentration and flying at low altitudes during bird
migration. Charted wildlife refuges and other natural
areas contain unusually high local concentration of birds
which may create a hazard to aircraft.
Reporting Bird Strikes
Pilots are urged to report
any bird or other wildlife strike using FAA Form 5200-7,
Bird/Other Wildlife Strike Report (Appendix 1). Additional
forms are available at any FSS; at any FAA Regional Office
http://wildlife-mitigation.tc.faa.gov. The data derived
from these reports are used to develop standards to cope
with this potential hazard to aircraft and for documentation
of necessary habitat control on airports.
Reporting Bird and Other Wildlife Activities
If you observe birds or other
animals on or near the runway, request airport management to
disperse the wildlife before taking off. Also contact the
nearest FAA ARTCC, FSS, or tower (including non-Federal
towers) regarding large flocks of birds and report the:
Bird type (geese, ducks, gulls, etc.).
Direction of bird flight path.
Pilot Advisories on Bird and Other Wildlife Hazards
Many airports advise pilots
of other wildlife hazards caused by large animals on the
runway through the A/FD and the NOTAM system. Collisions of
landing and departing aircraft and animals on the runway are
increasing and are not limited to rural airports. These
accidents have also occurred at several major airports.
Pilots should exercise extreme caution when warned of the
presence of wildlife on and in the vicinity of airports. If
you observe deer or other large animals in close proximity
to movement areas, advise the FSS, tower, or airport
Flights Over Charted U.S. Wildlife Refuges, Parks, and
Forest Service Areas
The landing of aircraft is prohibited on
lands or waters administered by the National Park Service,
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, or U.S. Forest Service
without authorization from the respective agency.
When forced to land due to an emergency
beyond the control of the operator;
At officially designated landing sites;
An approved official business of the
Pilots are requested to maintain a minimum
altitude of 2,000 feet above the surface of the following:
National Parks, Monuments, Seashores, Lakeshores,
Recreation Areas and Scenic Riverways administered by the
National Park Service, National Wildlife Refuges, Big Game
Refuges, Game Ranges and Wildlife Ranges administered by
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Wilderness and
Primitive areas administered by the U.S. Forest Service.
FAA Advisory Circular AC 91-36, Visual Flight Rules (VFR)
Flight Near Noise-Sensitive Areas, defines the surface of
a national park area (including parks, forests, primitive
areas, wilderness areas, recreational areas, national
seashores, national monuments, national lakeshores, and
national wildlife refuge and range areas) as: the highest
terrain within 2,000 feet laterally of the route of
flight, or the upper-most rim of a canyon or valley.
Federal statutes prohibit certain types of
flight activity and/or provide altitude restrictions over
designated U.S. Wildlife Refuges, Parks, and Forest
Service Areas. These designated areas, for example:
Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Areas, Minnesota;
Haleakala National Park, Hawaii; Yosemite National Park,
California; and Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, are
charted on Sectional Charts.
Federal regulations also prohibit airdrops
by parachute or other means of persons, cargo, or objects
from aircraft on lands administered by the three agencies
without authorization from the respective agency.
Emergencies involving the safety of human
Threat of serious property loss.