"We're out here on the grounds all the time watching out for birds and other wildlife," she said. The staff of 30 also deals with coyotes, stray dogs, rodents and even the occasional turtle that wanders across a runway, she said.
Her team uses several methods to try to reduce bird strikes. In the fall, a falconer is brought in to deal with birds roosting in the live oaks. The falcon scares away birds that otherwise would fly around the airport grounds looking for food. Her staff also uses hand-held noisemakers, sirens mounted on airport vehicles and propane cannons that produce booming sounds.
A strong deterrence program, geography, weather, seasonal migration patterns, and luck are among the reasons that airplane bird strikes are not as frequent near Chicago's airports as they are around some other U.S. airports, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has full-time wildlife experts at O'Hare International and Midway Airports. Working with the FAA, the Chicago Department of Aviation, and other agencies, the teams carry out daily patrols to clear the airfields of bird nests, small-animal carcasses, and debris that could attract intruders. The strategies range from shooting off propane cannons near runways to scare bird flocks to planting grasses that do not appeal to animals.