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Pro Bird Chaser: Salary $76,000

Pro Bird Chaser: Salary $76,000

A good friend of mine is fond of saying, "I may not get a bird every time my dog and I go out, but I sure as heck move a few!"

Maybe he ought to apply for the position of "bird chaser" at the Fort Lauderdale airport. Since the airport has requested that Broward County, Fla., pay for the job, the proposed salary is a matter of public record: $76,000 annually.

The idea that anyone could earn a comfortable, taxpayer-funded living by watching birds all day has made the proposal the brunt of talk show humor; however, after several high profile bird-strike incidents, most notably by a goose that caused U.S. Airways Flight 1549 to land safely in the Hudson River, there is renewed interest in controlling birds near airports.

Two such incidents have occurred at the Fort Lauderdale airport. From the Sun-Sentinel:

In 2010, a US Airways jet was taking off when it collided with a vulture. One of the engines went out. The plane had to circle and return, with crushed bird feathers in the blades.

In another instance, a plane hit a flock of grackles, Nonnemacher said. Currently, the airport sends employees out every day to shoo away the birds—by firing deafening flare guns, for instance. The airport spends $10,00 a year on pyrotechnics. The point is to do whatever is possible to harass the birds, but not kill them.


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