A bird strike forced a regional jet carrying 52 passengers to make an emergency landing at the Portland International Jetport on Sunday morning.

Jetport spokesman Zachary Sundquist confirmed that the plane collided with a bird around 8:37 a.m. and that an emergency response team, which included equipment and crews from the Portland Fire Department, responded.

The plane landed safely and no injuries were reported. The jet was inspected for damage and departed about an hour later, Sundquist said. It wasn’t immediately clear where the plane was headed.

Typically following a bird strike at the jetport, the “snarge” – or remains of the bird – are collected and sent to a laboratory at the Smithsonian Institution, where scientists conduct DNA tests on blood and body parts to determine what species of bird collided with a jet, according to Sundquist.

The bird on Sunday hit the nose of the plane, and its remains likewise will be sent to the Smithsonian, Sundquist said.

The jetport routinely consults with biologists from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop a wildlife management plan that aims to discourage wildlife from entering airspace over the airport. “Harassment” methods may involve activating loud horns or setting off pyrotechnics, Sundquist said.


“We work as much as possible to mitigate the wildlife habitat,” Sundquist said. Mitigation plans have been in place for years.

Scientists at the Smithsonian examined the feather remains from the Jan. 15, 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 bird strike, which resulted in the pilot, Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger ditching the plane in a daring, but dangerous emergency landing on the Hudson River in New York. Smithsonian scientists were able to determine that the birds the plane struck shortly after takeoff were a flock of migrating Canada geese. The incident became known as the” Miracle on the Hudson.”

Bird strikes pose a danger to commercial air traffic. Some airports remove seed-bearing plants to eliminate food sources, while others use insecticides or pesticides to eliminate food sources. The Portland jetport cuts grassy areas to reduce wildlife habitat.

In the United States alone, more than 20,000 wildlife strikes are reported each year. They can involve birds, bats, reptiles, and terrestrial mammals and cost hundreds of millions of dollars in damage and occasional loss of human lives, according to Bird Strike Committee USA.

Quieter engines, increased populations of large birds such as waterfowl and raptors and increased numbers of flights have challenged efforts by Bird Strike Committee USA, the Federal Aviation Administration, and USDA to reduce the number of bird strikes.

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