Delhi airport brings in ornithology experts to reduce bird hits

The illustrated brochure explains the differences between birds that soar, birds that dive, and birds that hover. But it's not for birdwatchers; it's for pilots, and it is meant to help them avoid bird hits. Bird hits cost the Indian aviation industry Rs300 crore per year in the 1990s.

Giving the pilot this knowledge teaches him or her to predict how particular birds will fly, as well as their typical numbers, groups, or formations. Prepared by S Sateesan, who is now official ornithologist at Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL), the brochure is part of a professional, sustainable plan for controlling birds and animals at airports, to prevent disaster.

Sateesan, and other ornithologists like him, have identified and recorded the distress calls of different species of birds. The Delhi airport has now put up scarecrows that emit these calls, to drive flocks of birds away when aircraft are taking off or landing. DIAL has created new posts for ornithologists and other experts.

So far, airports have been dealing with animals and birds by killing them. Now, they are translocated.

But the new strategy has its problems too. A monkey that entered the security hold area two weeks ago is yet to be trapped and translocated. In the last two-and-a-half years, airport officials have rescued a cobra from a Jet Airways hangar and translocated jackals, and even a nilgai.