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Raptors and aviation safety

30 April 2022

Many airports have a wildlife control service in which falconry is used, that is, the biological control of avifauna by means of trained birds of prey, among the corrective measures they have to control wildlife. In this sense, Eivissa airport is no exception, being Nova Falcons, the company in charge of wildlife control at Eivissa airport.

The purpose of this service is to avoid impacts and collisions with wildlife in general, but especially with birds. Incidents that can result in damage to aircraft (engines, sensors, tires, tires, lights ...), or even accidents.

Airports, in general, tend to be very attractive spaces for wildlife. Either because of the amount of food available in them (seeds, herbs, insects, micromammals, reptiles, birds...), or to look for refuge, resting or nesting areas. The consequence of this reality is that if no control is implemented over the wildlife species that try to access the airfield, many of them will end up dead in collisions with aircraft, or with terminal injuries; in addition to the damage and risks they can generate for the aircraft and their passengers. Therefore, wildlife control is an essential service within an airport, and is directly linked to aviation safety.

Ibiza airport falcons
Close-up of Musga, female peregrine falcon (Falcon peregrinus), and part of our team of falcons of the wildlife control service of Ibiza airport.

But apart from the birds of prey that make up our team of eagles and hawks, there are other birds of prey at the airport and its surroundings, which are those that naturally try to occupy the space. They can be sedentary or migrant species, and their presence, as with the rest of the avifauna, represents a threat both to their own lives (they can die stamped against an aircraft, suffer irrecoverable injuries, etc.), and to the correct operation of the airport. In other words, raptors are beneficial for wildlife control, but only when they are trained and handled by a wildlife control technician. Wild raptors, as long as they have no specific training and move freely around the airport, completely oblivious to the mortal risk posed by aircraft, often demonstrating great confidence and self-assurance despite the environment (partly due to their role as predators in the food chain), can generate the same problems, or even greater (given the large size of some species of raptors), than those bird species on which they feed.

Male Marsh Harrier Ibiza

 female marsh harrier ibizaMale (above) and female (below) of western marsh harrier (Circus aeruginosus), a species of bird of prey that hunts by gliding over the terrain at low altitude, which is ideal to end up having incidents with aircraft. In our islands, it is a migrant species that we can only enjoy on our trips to the Pitiusan countryside during the winter months.

However, a wildlife control service (WCS), whatever the environment in which it is developed, must always be an ethical and environmentally responsible service. In this sense, birds of prey are species whose populations are very sensitive to human action and play an important role in ecosystems. Therefore, it is the obligation of the company that performs the WCS to expel them as many times as necessary, without ever endangering their physical integrity. A physical injury, even if not fatal, could mean death for almost any bird, but especially for those that need to be real precision machines in flight and speed to survive.

pigeon control ibizaAn example of a wild peregrine falcon, which, as can be seen, is so calmly feeding a recently captured pigeon in an aircraft transit zone. This type of behavior poses a series of risks both for the falcon itself and for the aircraft.

In the photos accompanying this entry, we can see different examples of birds of prey frequent at the Aeroport d'Es Codolar, Eivissa. In the last photo, we can see how the female common kestrel (Falcon tinninculus) has a ring on her leg, which indicates that she has already been captured and later released in another area, but nevertheless, she has decided to return. Capture, marking by scientific banding and subsequent translocation are some of the non-injurious actions used both to control and to continue studying and better understanding the behavior and habits of these species, in order to improve the efficiency of the corrective measures to be implemented.

lesser kestrel ibizaMale Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni), a species that is also a migrant in Eivissa and Formentera, but we can only see it for a few days or weeks during the spring migration, on its way from its wintering grounds in Africa to its breeding grounds in Europe.

scientific bird ringing Ibiza
As can be seen in the leg that does not hold its valuable prey, this female common kestrel (Falco tinnunculus), has already been camouflaged and marked by scientific banding, before being released back into the wild...but it can be seen that the airport and its surroundings like it, and we have it back on the flying field.


Text: own elaboration.

unless otherwise specified, Borja Pérez; and unless otherwise indicated, all photos were taken in Eivissa or Formentera.

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About Nova Falcons:

Nova Falcons is a company specializing in wildlife control and environmental services.

-Controls on birds, mammals y reptiles.

-Wildlife surveys, censuses and monitoring.

-Survey and control of invasive and protected species.

-Environmental impact studies and environmental consultancy.

-Pest and microorganism control.

-Consult other services without obligation.

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If you have any questions or doubts, please do not hesitate to contact us.


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+34 604 048 298

Wildlife control in Ibiza