Berlin’s New Airport Terminal Killed 50+ Birds During Its 1st Year

In November, Berlin Brandenburg Airport revealed that it has been researching bird strikes. A daily search for dead animals has shown that 50 dead creatures have been found close to the terminal in its first year of operation. The average of around one casualty a week is comparatively lower than other glass facilities.

Berlin Brandenburg Airport, Glass Windows, Bird Deaths
At least 50 birds have died after flying into the glass windows of Berlin Brandenburg Airport Terminal 1. Photo: Getty Images

When you think of bird strikes in the context of aviation, you typically think of a mid-air collision between a bird minding its own business and a jet traveling at hundreds of miles per hour. However, it seems as though there is another cause of bird strikes. Flying into terminal buildings.

50+ bird deaths recorded

Since Terminal 1 at Berlin Brandenburg Airport opened at the end of October 2020, a daily search for dead birds has occurred. So far to November 26th, 50 dead birds have been found around the terminal after flying into the building’s glass windows. The number could be higher due to individuals that have managed to fly away and then succumb to their injuries.

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However, it seems as though the number of dead birds reported at the airport is comparatively low compared to other large glass buildings. The airport says that around 1,000 dead birds were found around Stuttgart’s “Mainz Football Arena” in the space of a year. Meanwhile, the Bavarian State Office for the Environment found around 200 birds around its offices in a similar study.

Berlin Brandenburg Airport, Glass Windows, Bird Deaths
Bird strikes represent a danger to aviation. Photo: Getty Images

What’s being done about the findings

According to the RSPB, a handful of birds will collide with windows in the heat of a chase. However, most fly into a window seeing the reflection of trees or the sky, thus not realizing it is there. This can lead to concussions and severe internal injuries for the fragile creatures.

Berlin Brandenburg Airport believes several factors contribute to lower building bird strikes than average. These include a lack of green areas behind glass, the terminal’s positioning concerning the direction that birds migrate, and the airport environment. Flight operations mean that birds are naturally deterred with poor food options on the site.

Despite this, the airport is still working on cutting terminal bird strikes even more. The airport is examining placing foils on free-standing glass walls, which are hotspots for collisions.

Berlin Brandenburg Airport, Glass Windows, Bird Deaths
Birds of prey can be used to deter some birds. Photo: Getty Images

In general, airports try and deter birds due to their effect when striking an aircraft. A bird strike led to the Miracle on the Hudson and a Ural Airlines A321 cornfield landing. To do this, several methods can be employed. Some airport ops vehicles may be equipped with sounds of predatory birds, indicating danger to the creatures. Air cannons can also produce noises to scare off birds. When conditions allow, birds of prey may also be brought in to scare off birds.

Schiphol Airport is even trialing the use of pigs to deter birds. The pigs are being released on a plot of land that would typically attract geese to eat leftover scraps once harvested. Meanwhile, Brussels Airport trialed drones with speakers playing the noises made by birds of prey. Lethal force is also an option in the worst cases.

Did you realize how many birds die from flying into airport terminals? Let us know what you think and why in the comments.