VIDEO: Important winged worker in action at Pearson Airport in Mississauga, Ontario

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Published April 9, 2024 at 3:21 pm

Ivan the bald eagle at Pearson Airport in Mississauga.
Ivan, a 24-year-old bald eagle and only one of his kind at Pearson Airport in Mississauga, prepares to go on a mission this week with help from his handler. (Photo: Pearson Airport X)

When it comes to doing his job, one of the most important workers at Pearson Airport in Mississauga “doesn’t mess around.”

Ivan, a 24-year-old bald eagle who heads up a team of some 25 birds of prey that helps keep the five runways and airspace at and around Canada’s biggest and busiest airport clear of smaller birds, can be seen in a video posted to social media on Tuesday getting the job done (see below).

The 41-second video shows Ivan, the lone bald eagle on the team, being released to patrol the grounds earlier today by his handler, Darryn Carter, a member of Pearson’s wildlife management team.

“He doesn’t mess around,” Carter can be heard saying as the bird of prey, who’s been at Pearson his entire life, is sent on his mission to keep smaller winged creatures away from aircraft.

Once released to carry out his duty to keep wildlife away from the runways, Ivan’s “flight path takes him along this river to a perch near the runway where a snack is waiting for him,” the post to X (formerly Twitter) reads.

“After a bite to eat, he returned to Darryn Carter’s outstretched arm where he was given a reward. Today, Ivan was given about 150 grams of quail after his flight for a job well done.”

Weighing seven pounds, Ivan is the biggest bird of prey on duty at the airport and he joined the wildlife management team in 2001. He can reach speeds of over 50 km/h in normal flight and more than double that speed when diving, Pearson officials said earlier.

Along with their human handlers, the large birds that comprise Ivan’s team reduce the number of smaller birds “and thus the chances of an airplane experiencing a bird strike,” Pearson officials said in an earlier post to social media.

Bird strikes have been the cause of numerous plane crashes over the years in Canada and the U.S. resulting in loss of human life. Still, the number of such incidents is very low, according to aviation authorities.

Falcon Environmental, described as a North American leader in management of nuisance wildlife at airports and landfill sites, has been using birds of prey at Pearson since 1999.
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