A KITV4 News investigation found that birds struck aircraft at the Hawaii airports during take offs and landings hundreds of times in the last few years.
Birds have caused fatal air crashes on the mainland and around the world in recent years when they're sucked into aircraft engines. There have been no fatal bird-related accidents in the islands, but birds have caused problems for planes, pilots and passengers.
A Federal Aviation Administration database shows that airplanes struck more than 305 birds in Hawaii during the last three years.
"If it hits the engine, it happens so fast that it sounds like a miniature explosion when the bird gets ingested," said retired Aloha Airlines pilot Dave Wilson.
Records show that three planes aborted their takeoffs in the islands since 2001 after striking birds. Four other planes turned around and made "precautionary landings."
Wilson said planes are most vulnerable to getting hit with birds when they've just taken off and their landing gear is still down, creating a drag on the aircraft.
- Honolulu 113
- Lihue 78
- Kahului 55
- Hilo 23
- Molokai 12
- Dillingham 8
- Kalaeloa 8
- Kapalua-West Maui 5
- Lanai 3
Airports are full of open grassy areas, which make for perfect bird habitats.
"It's kind of a protected environment. We prevent any predators from entering the area, like cats and dogs and mongoose, because we don't want those on the airfield as well," said Mark Ono of the U.S. Agriculture Department.
FAA records show the most frequent victim of airplanes in Hawaii is the Pacific Golden Plover. A total of 102 of them have been reported killed after hitting aircraft in the last four years.
"If you get enough of them, they can do severe damage to the engines, and that's the problem," Wilson said.
While adult plovers seem to understand that aircraft are dangerous, wildlife experts say the younger plovers are often victims because they tend to be scared into flight when there's a plane nearby, instead of hunkering down like the grown-up plovers.
While birds pay the ultimate price when they collide with planes, they can also damage or ruin aircraft engines.
"Loss of an engine can cost upwards of $1 million to $3 million to replace and that is a huge cost to air carriers and then passed on to consumers, eventually," Ono said.
However, bird problems at Hawaii airports are nothing compared to the situation at Tern Island in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. Seabirds surround airplanes as they take off and land. It's almost impossible to avoid hitting at least one bird on the way up or down.
Airplanes also took out a large number of owls in Hawaii.