Birdstrikes to aircrafts are increasing on an annual basis and pose significant aviation safety risks. Identification of the birds involved is key to developing mitigation strategies. Often the only information available to make identifications are feather and/or tissue samples. Relying on feathers alone to identify the bird species requires special expertise and access to museum collections for specimen comparisons. In 2017, feathers and tissue samples were recovered from the engine cowling of an airplane that had just landed at the Oliver Reginald (O. R.) Tambo international airport in South Africa after striking a bird at 3,353 m. To confirm the bird species, we sequenced a region of cytochrome c oxidase I (COI) for the unknown sample and compared the results to the Barcode of Life Database (BOLD) and National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) GenBank databases. Comparisons to these databases indicated that the species involved in the birdstrike incident was a white stork (Ciconia ciconia; 99.6–100% similarity). This was the first known record of a white stork involved in a birdstrike in South Africa and is important because it provided evidence of a high-altitude birdstrike. Availability of publicly accessible DNA barcoding databases that include all potential bird species from various geographic regions is a valuable tool in species identification and can aid wildlife management strategies at airports to reduce the risks associated with birdstrikes.
Dalton, Desire; De Bruyn, Marli; Mwale, Monica; Labuschagne, Kim; Hofmann, Melissa; Froneman, Albert; Smit-Robinson, Hanneline A.; and Kotze, Antoinette
"First Record of White Stork in a Birdstrike in South Africa Above 3,300 m AGL,"
Human–Wildlife Interactions: Vol. 13
, Article 18.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/hwi/vol13/iss1/18