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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Collisions between birds and aircraft (bird strikes) are a serious threat to air safety and represent a substantial economic cost to the global aviation industry. In recent years, the frequency of wood pigeons (Columba palumbus) flying over active runways has increased at airports in Ireland. Here, we examine the effectiveness of imitation hawk-kites as a means of excluding wood pigeons from sensitive airfield locations. Over 2 years, during August and September, we conducted control (no kites deployed) and treatment trials (kites deployed) at Casement Aerodrome, an active airfield of approximately 320 ha in County Dublin, Ireland and on agricultural farmland in County Waterford, Ireland, where the movement of large numbers of wood pigeons had previously been identified (≥50 birds per hour). Overall, we recorded a significant reduction in the mean (±SE) number of wood pigeons observed to successfully cross sites during deployment of the hawk-kites (70.69 ± 11.01 per hour),compared to control trials (178.37 ± 29.98 per hour). Although preliminary, our data suggest that hawk-kites can be used to provide an additional means of bird control to reduce instances of airfield flyovers by a problematic species. Nevertheless, further research is required to determine the reliability of hawk-kites under a range of context-dependencies, such as airfield location, size surrounding land-use, seasonality, and weather conditions.

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