WASHINGTON (AP) - Reports of airplanes hitting birds and other wildlife could reach or even exceed 10,000 for the first time when the final, soaring, 2009 tally is completed.
The spike in reports comes since a stricken US Airways jet landed in New York's Hudson River.
Experts say there are two reasons: more diligent reporting by airports and airlines, along with more birds getting in the way of airplanes.
An analysis of government figures by The Associated Press shows there were at least 57 cases in the first seven months of 2009 that caused serious damage, and three in which planes and a helicopter were destroyed. At least eight people died and six more were hurt.
Richard Dolbeer, an expert on bird-plane collisions and an FAA adviser, says "birds and planes are fighting for airspace, and it's getting increasingly crowded."