Air Force Uses Falcons to Protect Planes
Trained birds keeps nuisance birds away
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 25, 2010 8:00 AM CDT
The mother Peregrine Falcon keeps a close eye as she circles her nest while staff from the World Bird Sanctuary places an identification band on her chicks Wednesday, July 11, 2007, in St. Louis.   (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)

(Newser) – The Air Force is using falcons to protect its planes, Network World reports. Unfortunately, the falcons aren't being fitted with sci-fi style lasers or missile launchers, but they perform a crucial function: protecting the aircraft from birds. Crows and other birds had become a nuisance at one Air Force base in Germany, as a fowl in the wrong place at the wrong time can seriously damage aircraft.

So Ronald Leu, an engineer on the base and part-time falconer, saw an opportunity to put his hobby to good use: several times a week he takes Gina, his 5-year-old falcon, to patrol the base. If Gina catches a bird, Leu will let her eat only a small portion—keeping her hungry so that she'll continue to hunt.