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Airport falcon squadron

Plane protection

falcon and falconer

Millions of people pass through Palma airport on thousands of flights every year and all of them must be acutely aware of the heightened security measures there because of the large presence of armed police.

However most people will be blissfully unaware of an extremely important security system taking place there every day of the year.

Palma airport has had a team of three falconers on duty since the year 2000 who use a squadron of 18 hawks to patrol the perimeter of the airport to ward off any birds which may try to enter.

Incredible as it may seem, even a small bird can cause considerable damage to an aircraft, as the people at EasyJet will testify, as a collision with a pigeon which was sucked into the engine caused €700,000's worth of damage!

It's so important at Palma because Mallorca is on migration routes for many birds in spring and autumn and is also located near to wet zones where birds like to feed. As well as creating a natural 'corridor' for the transit of the birds which bypasses the airport, the authorities brought in the hawks to scare the birds away from the landing and take-off zones.

All the hawks have been bred in captivity and are raised and fed near the runways so they become accustomed to the noise of the jets, and are equipped with a GPS location system so the falconers know exactly where they are.

Taking turns throughout the day from sunrise to sunset, there are always three birds on duty patrolling the most vital areas of the airport and when they finish they all get a tasty tit-bit as a reward for their efforts!