Taipei, May 5 (CNA) Over 150 bird strikes -- collisions between birds and airplanes -- at civilian or military airports were recorded in Taiwan last year, and the number of cases involving birds of prey was increasing, an aviation safety group said Saturday.
According to statistics compiled by the Flight Safety Foundation-Taiwan, there were 159 bird strikes in 2011, 18 incidents more than in 2010, and the highest number in the last four years, during which over 100 cases were reported annually.
A total of 28 of the 159 bird strikes caused damage to the planes, the foundation said.
Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport records the highest number of bird strikes each year, with the number of incidents hitting 64 last year, the foundation said.
The number of cases involving birds of prey is increasing, the foundation stated, adding that airport authorities in Taoyuan have reported planes being hit by birds of prey, such as nighthawks, ospreys, serpent eagles and Asian crested goshawks, for a number of years.
The foundation noted that the Taoyuan airport is close to a military airport that has a pond within its area. This water source,coupled with construction works at the Taoyuan airport, makes a perfect habitat for birds to breed.
Problems arise at nighttime when these birds are attracted by the bright lights of the neighboring international airport.
Taichung Airport in central Taiwan is near farmland and has therefore also attracted a lot of birds, the foundation said.
Over the past two years, the black-winged kite, due to its strong breeding ability, has become a potential threat to air traffic at the airport.
Taipei International Airport in the city's Songshan District is a small airport, and is not as ideal as other airports in terms of bird habitat, but migrant doves have become a potential worry for plane safety.
The foundation attributed the growing number of bird strikes to overdevelopment, which has resulted in the destruction and disappearance of birds' original habitats.
(By Wang Shu-fen and Lilian Wu)