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NEWS | May 12, 2014

Flatbed truck sidelined for bird ‘strike’

By Jessica Donnelly 628th Force Support Squadron

A bird strike to an aircraft can be a serious situation. Depending on the size of the bird, strikes can break windshields and stop jet engines.

But how fast does a 1 ½ ton flatbed truck need to be going to be put out of commission by a bird strike?

In this case, the truck was sitting still and the 'strike' was more of a strike attack from a mother eastern bluebird.

It was the early morning of May 2, and after doing an initial vehicle check and testing the back automated lift gate, Gary Grove, 628th Force Support Squadron Marketing Division Information/Graphics specialist, noticed a bird's nest containing three small blue eggs nestled inside the lift cable box. Not knowing how old it was or whether it was abandoned, Grove finished his "walk-around," hopped in the truck, signed the Vehicle Operator's Inspection checklist and went about his work.

"It wasn't effecting the operation of the tail gate, so I just didn't bother it," Grove said.
Several hours later as he was pulling into the designated parking space for the truck behind building 322, he noticed a small, colorful bird sitting on top of the "Government Vehicle" reserve sign. Not thinking much about it except how pretty the bird was, he got out of the truck and was immediately dive-bombed by the understandably upset mother bird.

"She was not happy I took her babies for an all-day ride," Grove remarked. After circling the truck several times at high speed, the bird swooped up under the back end of the truck and disappeared.

The following morning, Grove went out to check on the progress of the eggs. To his surprise, the family had a new addition - there were now four eggs. "How cool is this?" Grove said to himself. But, after what happened the day before, he wasn't going to move that truck no matter what, especially now that he knew it was an active nesting site.

With the next day being a down day for Grove, the truck sat idle. The following day, his curiosity was getting the best of him, so he went out to the truck and lowered the tailgate. "I had to do a double-take," he remarked. "Now, there were five eggs."

He took the squadron's vehicle manager, Jim Canaday, out to the truck to show him the nest and recounted the events of the past few days.

"We'll have to think about this one," Canaday said. After consulting several "unofficial" bird experts and his supervisor, the decision was made to temporarily put the truck out of commission until the occupants flew the coop.

"We're not sure how long this is going to take," Canaday said, "but we need to do the right thing here and let her raise her family."