I recently wrote a story about bird strikes this week for Conde Nast Traveler, and I learned some information that did not make it into the piece, so I wanted to share it here.
You may have seen a couple of weeks ago that an American Airlines A321 hit some birds upon takeoff from Seattle, creating a dent in the aircraft's radome. This was not a big deal, but it was nonetheless heavily covered by news outlets.
I had read that Seattle's airport was going to send the bird remains to the Smithsonian in hopes that they could be identified.
I sent an email to Perry Cooper, the airport spokesman, to confirm this was the plan. Here is my question, and his response.
And is it true you've send the bird remains to the Smithsonian? If so, why?
Yes. Our wildlife team gathers from the aircraft what’s called ‘snarge’ – a mix between snot and garbage. Snarge is the remains of a bird. Sometimes there is enough to easily identify what type of bird was involved in the strike. Our operations teams will go out and check the runway areas to see if they can find the carcass of the bird, which makes it easier to ID. If there isn’t enough to positively ID, they will gather the snarge, put it in a bag and send it to the Smithsonian. They have a list of DNA for birds and they can positively ID the type of bird from the strike. Pretty cool!