Yesterday’s US Airways crash is just the most high-profile illustration of the growing problem of bird strikes, Time reports. Such run-ins quadrupled from 1,759 in 1990 to 7,666 in 2007. The problem, ironically, may be improving technology: Most jets now have two engines rather than four, leaving them with fewer backups in a strike—and they’re quieter, giving birds less warning.
Air traffic and bird populations have also grown, and habitat destruction has made migratory patterns less predictable. Some airports are planting vegetation distasteful to birds, hiring teams to scare them off, releasing birds of prey to scare off gulls and geese, and even bringing in hunters to kill off some populations.