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Air show: Bird-strike fears rise as pigeon numbers soar

Bosky Khanna , Feb 12, 2015, Bengaluru, dhns 16:18 IST
Air show. PTI File Photo for representation.
The increase in pigeon population in Bengaluru’s northern part—contributed by a booming construction industry—has raised concerns there will be more bird strikes—collision between birds and aircrafts—during the Aero India 2015 set to take place at the Yelahanka Air Force Station from February 18 to 22. Keeping pigeons and kites at bay during the event will be a challenge.

Bird scaring is a regular sortie during Aero India. Retired Squadron Leader and CEO of Grus EcoSciences SS Mahesh told Deccan Herald that as per their study, there were 150 bird species in and around Jakkur, of which Black and Brahminy Kites were most problematic for aviation. Pigeons will only add to the problem.

The pigeon population has increased by 25 per cent near Jakkur, largely because many buildings have come up in its vicinity. Pigeons adapt easily, breed four times a year and roost anywhere possible.

To keep them away from hangars, the aerodrome and the runway, various acoustic instruments can be used.

These instruments give out pigeon distress calls which help scare them away, he pointed. Mahesh is also in-charge officer of Aviation Ornithology Department to mitigate bird problems at Indian airports.

Mahesh gave nine reasons why birds come. Kites are attracted to meat. Garbage in surrounding places such as Mavalipura should be taken care of. It has been observed that kites sit on runways, hovering there for as many as eight hours.

Drop in altitude

This is because bitumen on runway generates heat which attracts them. Another factor is the northwest aerodrome; there is a drop in altitude and windblow which keeps the birds cool. An immediate remedial measure is to position about 15 people at strategic locations half an hour before sunrise — when kites sit on runways — to scare them away.

Besides, the nine lakes — in Jakkur, Rachenahalli, Venkateshpura, Jalahalli, Hebbal, Nagawara, Yelahanka, Allasandra and Puttenahalli — attract many aquatic birds which could pose a threat during early morning practice sorties.

While some defence officials contemplate putting nets on lakes to avoid fishing, lake engineers from the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) have objected to the idea.

BBMP Commissioner N Lakshminarayana has promised to conduct special drives around Ballari Road to ensure eateries managed their waste, especially meat, and disposed it scientifically.

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