Bird strike has always struck us (har) as a bit of a misnomer. As British comedian Eddie Izzard once pointed out, birds don't exactly fly around looking for planes to go after -- the act of a bird hitting a plane's body or engine should be more adequately described as "engine suck." Either way, it's caused $2 billion worth of damage to US-based aircraft since 1990, according to the FAA. So, the US National Institute of Standards and Technology
is currently working on a solution that involves a terrestrial setup of 192 microphones (an "audio telescope," if you will) that aims to pick up on bird sounds and detect what type of bird is approaching oncoming aircraft. The idea is that while a smaller sparrow isn't usually much concern, a larger hawk or Canada goose would be a problem when colliding with planes. One big problem though: currently the audio telescope can only detect birds at distances of a few hundred meters; Vincent Stanford of the NIST says that to really be effective, the telescope would "need to be up to around 2.5 kilometers." So get crackin' fellas, looks like your work is cut out for you.