We all suspected that Canada Geese were the unlucky birds struck by the US Airways jet that came down in the Hudson River last month, and yesterday the National Transportation Safety Board confirmed it.
Now researchers are trying to determine if the birds were migratory geese, which weigh 6-11 pounds, or residents, which are typically fatter. Fat or lean, says an article in the New York Times, Canada Geese are too much for a plane's engines to ingest.
The final, authoritative identification was made by a group of researchers we've come to know pretty well lately -- Carla Dove and her team of investigators at the Feather Identification Lab at the National Museum of Natural History.
You see, we had just finished work on our April 2009 issue when Flight 1549 splashed into the Hudson. One of the feature stories in the issue describes the Feather Lab, how it operates, its people, and why it's important. The opening spread of the story, written by wildlife biologist Jennifer Lynch, is above. (The photo was taken in 2004 at Budapest Ferihegy Airport.)
We and Jennifer couldn't possibly have anticipated the events on the Hudson when we were preparing the article, but we're happy about what it adds to the conversation taking place now about birds and aircraft. When you read it, please pay attention to how bird strikes are described -- do birds strike airplanes or is it better said the other way around?
Our April issue goes on newsstands March 3. -- C.H.
What the editors of Birder's World (and a few of the editors' good friends) find in their field of view when they work on the magazine, look through their binoculars, and consider the world of birds and birdwatching.