ASHEVILLE, N.C. (CBS Local) — Several flights were delayed Friday when an extremely large flock of birds shut down the airport in Asheville, North Carolina, for several hours, officials said.
“Extraordinarily large flocks of starlings, thousands of birds, landed on the Asheville Regional Airport airfield this morning, causing an operational hazard for aircraft takeoffs and landings,” airport spokeswoman Tina Kinsey told the Asheville Citizen Times.
Some flights were delayed for more than six hours, WLOS reported.
“There were thousands of birds, and they were doing everything they could,” said passenger Alexis Conyers, who was on a plane forced to return to the terminal.
Confirming that thousands of birds landed on the airfield this morning. Airport ops working diligently to disperse the flocks. Passengers should stay in touch with their airlines for changes to flight schedules, as some flights are delayed. 10/25/19 10:53am
— Asheville Airport (@flyavlnow) October 25, 2019
The airport said it immediately implemented its wildlife management plan to scare the flock birds away from the airfield without physically harming them.
By 9 a.m., the tactics included the use of sirens, firetrucks with water cannons, air cannons and “pyrotechnic noise makers,” according to Kinsey.
“There were fire trucks going by and trying to spray them,” Conyers told WLOS. “Apparently they were like using loud noises and everything that they possibly could, and nothing was helping.”
Some passengers took shuttles to the Charlotte airport instead of waiting for the issue to clear up.
The flock, technically known as a murmuration, eventually dispersed, and flights resumed at approximately 11:13 a.m.