Voluntary Reporting Means Only a Small Percentage of Bird Strikes Get Recorded

The growing population of birds makes the situation worse. While migratory birds used to be the most common cause of aviation hits, the number of resident birds has grown exponentially in the last three decades as larger urban areas provide them with fewer natural predators and more places to survive the winter months -- buildings, golf courses and parks, to name a few.

Dickey said it is estimated that the number of resident birds has increased by 7.3 percent, or several million birds, between 2008 and 2006.

Geese, which were thought to be the species that took down Flight 1549, are in the top 10, he said, of most populous species in the United States.

'Variety' of Ways for Birds to Take a Plane Down

Bird strikes happen every day and can be deadly, with more than 200 people killed since 1988 because of airborne collisions with birds, according to the Bird Strike Committee USA.

"There's a variety of ways a bird can take down an airplane," said John Ostrom of the Metropolitan Airports Commission at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, who's also chairman of the Bird Strike Committee.

Birds can disable planes, Ostrom said, by flying into the engines and shutting them down. They can also penetrate the windshield or other parts of the fuselage, causing pilots to lose control.

And apparently when it comes to collisions with birds, size doesn't always matter.

"There have been instances where birds the size of robins bring a plane down, all the way up to Canada geese," Ostrom said.

Even when birds don't cause death, injury or drama such as Thursday's Hudson River rescue, they do cost airplane owners money.

The FAAs Web site on Airport Wildlife Mitigation says that bird strikes do more than $300 million of damage to aircraft each year.

While there are wildlife mitigation options for airports, there's not much a pilot can do to avoid birds in the air.

"You're not going to move the airplane like you're moving a car or moving a bike," Ostrom said. "When you're moving something at 100 mph, it's pretty much straight on."

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