FEB 2, 2018
MEXICO CITY – Far from the crowds of passengers, lines and passport control, Madison spreads his wings on the side of a runway at Mexico City’s international airport, the busiest in Latin America.
He is one of several peregrine falcons deployed to prevent “bird strikes” — a hazardous collision between birds and planes that can have dangerous and even catastrophic consequences.
In 2009, for instance, a U.S. Airways jet had to ditch in the Hudson River in New York after a flock of birds took out its engines. In January this year, a Mexico-bound KLM flight made an emergency landing after hitting birds on takeoff in the Netherlands.
“It’s dangerous. Birds don’t mix with planes. They can hit a turbine,” Oscar Chavez, a 26-year-old who is one of the biologists handling the falcons, told AFP.
Each day, Madison and another peregrine falcon named Ilse are on duty at the airport, which sees 44 million passengers pass through it each year.