The term bird strike refers to collisions between aircraft and birds, which pose a severe safety hazard especially during takeoff and landing. In this context, the potential damage depends on the weight and, in the case of flocks of birds, the number of birds.
The airport has the biggest single green space in Hamburg. This space is very appealing to birds, as it offers plenty of food and opportunities to roost in all seasons. Furthermore, Hamburg is located at the interface of two bird migration routes, as a result of which the number of birds in this area is relatively high at all times. This can be a risk to air traffic.
At Hamburg Airport, the bird strike issue is primarily associated with the following bird species: common buzzard, common kestrel, peewit, grey heron, pigeons as well as various gull and crow species.
Gulls are usually only to be found on the airport premises when the weather is bad. A total of 29% of all bird strikes at the airport are caused by gulls.
Although there are also vast numbers of common buzzards at the airport due to the abundance of food (small mammals, reptiles, but also carrion and small birds), this species is responsible for a much smaller proportion of bird strike incidents – a mere 5.3 %.
Crows cause approx. 4.4% of all bird strikes. This type of bird generally hatches its young in big colonies, in some cases in the immediate vicinity of the airport. The young frequently make their first attempts at flying on the open premises. Their lack of experience is a major threat to the safety of air traffic.
The airport takes two aspects into account in connection with the maintenance of its green space:
1. Preserving the natural state to the greatest possible extent
2. Minimising bird strike
It is possible to pursue both of these targets at the same time:
By not using any fertiliser!
This promotes the preservation of ecologically important low-nutrient habitats and makes the area less appealing for birds due to the more scarce food supply.
Long-grass management minimises interference with the operating area while also reducing the number of birds!This is because birds prefer to breed and look for food in open spaces with unobstructed visibility and a low level of vegetation.
Big nets are used to make water surfaces inaccessible!
As a result, the airport premises are no longer appealing to water birds.
The airport implements the measures described by way of example to ensure that the natural state of its green spaces continues to be preserved to the greatest possible extent and that they will serve as a habitat for rare animal and plant species.
Thanks to the ecologically motivated measures relating to the bird strike issue, the number of bird strikes has been reduced significantly as compared to the past.