The Science of Coexisting with Wildlife

June 04, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

Dr. Morgan Drabik-HamshareDr. Morgan Drabik-Hamshare



In my latest podcast, I’m excited to have as my guest Dr. Morgan Drabik-Hamshare, a research wildlife biologist with the National Wildlife Research Center in Sandusky Ohio; a component of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This podcast is another in my series to expand awareness of wildlife professionals, careers in wildlife protection and management, and why this work is important.


Morgan’s research focuses on understanding, preventing, and mitigating the negative effects of wildlife collisions with aircraft, other vehicles, and structures. Morgan is a skilled wildlife scientist, researcher, and author of many publications in USDA’s Wildlife Services collection. Her current research evaluates unoccupied aircraft systems (UAS) technology for wildlife hazard management. In short, that means she’s conducting work to identify effective ways to prevent bird strikes at airports using various drone technologies.


Some of you may remember the 2009 “Miracle on the Hudson”, where a USAIR pilot safely landed a plane with 150 passengers and 5 crew on board in New York’s Hudson River after the plane had a critical bird strike with Canada Geese during the plane’s initial climb out of New York LaGuardia airport. Morgan’s work contributes to how to make airports safer from these kinds of events and protect birds in the process. Morgan is also an avid birder. Her world life list is at 828 species, though we find out she’s a bit partial to vultures.



Here’s what we talked about. Listen to the podcast now.


  • Tell us about yourself



  • In your research with NWRC, you’ve had to spend time at landfills and around landfill birds (gulls, vultures, etc…). Tell us about why these conditions are useful for the research you’re leading.


  • Based on your recent research, it seems promising, the role of UAS’ as a tool to reduce the hazards to birds and humans at airports, as well as a tool for monitoring wildlife populations.  How is this research being used in practical applications – e.g., to enhance airport safety?


  • You have a Master’s degree and a PhD in Zoology, and this means you know more than a thing or two about wildlife and their role in our environment. Is there something you particularly appreciate or admire about wildlife?


  • We must switch gears and talk about birding!  Did you have any particularly exciting or unexpected bird finds this season?


  • Knowing birds like you do, do you have any advice or tips for birders?





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