Cleared for landing: Airport crew plows Creamers Field for migratory birds

A snow blower from Fairbanks International Airport plows Creamers Field. The airport plows the...
A snow blower from Fairbanks International Airport plows Creamers Field. The airport plows the area to help encourage birds to land their instead of the airport.(John Dougherty/KTVF)
Published: Apr. 8, 2021 at 5:13 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Each spring, migratory birds from around the world congregate in Fairbanks and land at Creamers Field. However, after a winter of snowfall, the observatory is completely buried leaving nowhere for the birds to land. Fortunately for birds and bird watchers alike, crews from Fairbanks International Airport (FAI) Field Maintenance plow the land each spring.

FAI Field Maintenance Forman Matt Ellingson told us, “We do snow removal out here in the field and around the ponds for Fish and Game. That gets the ground showing and the birds will land here, and I think they even do a little bit of feed for them in the spring. The birds remember that and they come right here.”

Ellingson said that by plowing the field, they are able to help the community. “When the first geese come in the spring people will gather here too see them and these rows are cut in so you can see them from the front viewing point.”

With an entire winter worth of snow at Creamers Field, airport equipment are perfect for the job. Ellingson explained, “We need a grader to help put the rows in but the snow blower is taking the brunt of the work here today. It’s moving a hundred ton an hour and putting these rows in.”,

However, the community is not the main reason for FAI operators plowing at Creamers Field. Ellingson also said that Creamers Field helps the airport. “The biggest reason is from bird strikes from aircraft landing and taking off from Fairbanks International. If we can get the birds over here, we don’t have that back at the airport.”

Birds at an airport can be dangerous and cause planes to crash, so the airport wants to help encourage birds to find someplace to land - a win-win for everyone involved.

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