I agree that we need to respect bird habitat to some degree, but at the same time, Grizzly Bears used to roam freely through what is now downtown Boise, Idaho. There has to be a middle ground where we can protect our most vulnerable airspace while infringing the least on bird habitat. Here in Austin the county landfill has done a commendable job, thanks partly to the urgings of the local pilot community, to keep bird activity to a minimum. No longer are landfills open dumps where foodstuffs attract large numbers of medium sized to large birds. Things like this, and careful grooming of airport grounds, do the job of cutting down on bird encounters with little negative impact on the bird population.
A Cessna 172 made an emergency landing at our local airport. The pilot had only recently received her licence and was taking her husband for a sightseeing flight. Without warning, a large water bird came in from the side, somehow missed the prop, and completely destroyed the windshield. Despite the wind, noise and bird blood, she made a smooth landing.
What made for a safe outcome was that this pilot was obviously well trained. She remembered to "fly the airplane." She also knew she needed to get on the ground quickly. In addition, she made mental notes all along her route regarding potential emergency landing sites. At the time of the bird strike, she was only a couple of miles from our field.
This pilot's experience went right to the heart of your point. There was no way she could have prevented the strike. When it did happen, however, her training and preparation greatly reduced the risk she might otherwise have faced.
As a sailplane pilot I actively seek out encounters with soaring birds.
More than once they have saved me from an inconvenient landing away from my intended destination. Oftentimes we sailplane pilots are dancing around the edge of a thermal with few clues as to where the real lift is - until we spot a rapidly climbing hawk or eagle. We naturally then adjust our massive circle to surround theirs. We spiral up together - they climb much faster of course - but they dont seem to mind us sharing.
Usually they just climb away and head off to the next thermal, but sometimes they will playfully dive back down below us and climb again. Are they showing off or trying to guide us? Who know - who cares - but its a joy to spend part of my day with them occasionally.
AFTER ALL THAT WE HAVE LEARNED.... BY WATCHING HOW THE BIRDS DO IT,
WE NOW FIND THEM TO BE A PAIN IN THE YOU KNOW WHERE,WHEREVER WE
COME ACROSS THEM IN OUR HEAVENLY EXPLOITS,IN FACT INTRUDING
AS GROUND POUNDERS INTO THEIR TERRITORY...!!?..HOW SILLY...!!??
It's a whole different world when the engine is the earth's radiant heat!
Sounds like a blast, Jim.