Use of a portable thermograph as a potential tool to identify nocturnal airport bird risks / Uso de um termógrafo portátil como uma ferramenta potencial para identificar riscos noturnos de aves em aeroportos

Cesar Augusto Bronzatto Medolago, Fernanda Delborgo Abra, Paula Ribeiro Prist


Worldwide, wildlife-aircraft collisions constitute a major human health and safety concern.  About 98% of wildlife-aircraft strikes involve bird species (i.e., bird strikes) resulting in an annual loss of $1.2 billion to the aviation industry and costing 194 human lives. Thus, airport managers desire better tools to identify wildlife aircraft risks and management option to mitigate them.   A number of variables have been identified that can attract the birds and other animals to the airport area. These variables include increased food availability, clear views of predators, and open water. Regular bird surveys can help managers to identify bird strike risks and prioritize management actions to reduce avian hazards. However, bird species detection efficiency at the airports can vary according to the applied methodology. We compared the efficiency of a portable thermograph to detect bird risk in a Brazilian airport using the transection methodology at night. Linear transects adjacent to the airstrip were traveled, by foot, at an average speed of 1 km/h, with and without the device, looking for birds. With the device, transects were traveled with the thermograph in mode on and at each bird visualization a photo was taken. Without the device transects were traveled with a flashlight looking for birds. A portable thermograph allows warm-blooded animals to become easily visible against the environment, both day and night, once it can detect and produce radiation images in the long infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum (approximately 9,000 to 14,000 nanometers or 9 to 14 µm).  Our evaluations were conducted in the Regional Airport of Itanhaém, São Paulo, Brazil, in September and October 2015. Our results show that the thermography detected 13 locations with 25 specimens of birds, while the same method applied without the device recorded three locations with three specimens, resulting in nine times more bird specimens per hour. We believe that the thermographs may be considered as a new method in nocturnal airport bird risks and even common nocturnal bird surveys, with benefits exceeding its U$ 20.000,00 costs.


airport, avian surveys, bird strikes, Brazil, nocturnal bird surveys, portable thermographs

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