back to article 'Extraordinary' pigs step in to protect Schiphol airport from marauding geese

An unlikely battle is currently going on betwixt the runways of one of Europe's busiest airports, after a company called Extraordinary Pigs was contracted to bring their animals to help protect Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport from marauding geese. Schiphol is the main international airport for the Netherlands, a major transit hub …

  1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    Couldn't they cut out the piggy in the middle?

    Deploy foxes, rather than pigs.

    1. b0llchit Silver badge

      Re: Couldn't they cut out the piggy in the middle?

      And where do the pigs go? Space?

      1. Andy Non Silver badge

        Re: Couldn't they cut out the piggy in the middle?

        Pigs might fly.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Couldn't they cut out the piggy in the middle?

          The hogs of war.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Couldn't they cut out the piggy in the middle?

          A good thing they don't. Ingesting a flying pig would cause an even bigger problem for a jet engine..


          1. the spectacularly refined chap

            Re: Couldn't they cut out the piggy in the middle?

            I was going to suggest throwing the pigs in the engines myself. Freshly sliced, fried bacon out of the exhaust.

            1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

              Re: Couldn't they cut out the piggy in the middle?


              // no flying pig icon?

  2. b0llchit Silver badge

    Shouldn't this article be filed under Boarnotes?

    Boots may be appropriate for geese, but not for pigs, with all that animal treatment talk and so.

    1. Mark 85

      If you've ever been around a pig pen, you'd know that boots are required. Thus, seems a like an appropriate place to me.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        You're talking shit.

        Ankle deep.

  3. rcxb1

    <blockquote>Schiphol employs 20 bird controllers who patrol the airport in radar-equipped vehicles nicknamed "lapwings" </blockquote>

    Please tell me the vehicles are yellow Piaggio Ape minitrucks with eyes painted on:

    Also acceptable are Ford Falcons, Thunderbirds, Plymouth Road Runners, Buick Skylarks, Pontiac Firebirds, and AMC Eagles.

    1. David 132 Silver badge

      You forgot the Studebaker Hawk (and Lark, fwiw).

      Oh, and of course the Reliant Robin.

      I would pay good money to see a fleet of those being used for airport bird control.

  4. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    Bird Balls

    For standing water areas, especially at airports, though not for this case for open farmland...

    I actually came across these on YouTube - via this - being used here to reduce bromate build up in the Los Angeles reservoir by blocking out sunlight - it also had the side effect of driving the birds away as they no longer recognised a water source

    1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: Bird Balls: Euro-Matic

      Used to be one of my favourite clients until the founder tragically died and the company got taken over. They had patents on making spherical balls and were active in a wide range of industries. RIP Howard Moss.

  5. SuperGeek

    At least

    The management will feel the numbers go 'down' after a while, this won't seem as quackers a plan. Wing it and see.... :)

  6. Ace2 Silver badge

    Big and stupid?

    You forgot ‘evil.’

    I hate those flokkers.

    1. Christoph

      Re: Big and stupid?

      A Gøøse once bit my sister

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Big and stupid?

        There's a goose loose aboot this hoos.

        1. David 132 Silver badge

          Re: Big and stupid?

          I heard a neighbour had geese for adoption so I went over to take a gander…

    2. ThatOne Silver badge

      Re: Big and stupid?

      > I hate those flokkers.

      It depends how they're cooked...

  7. Threlkeld

    Useful fact

    Schiphol is the only major international airport built on the site of a sea battle.

    Battle of Haarlemmermeer was a naval engagement fought on 26 May 1573 between the Spanish and the Dutch. The Spanish won.

    1. Youngone Silver badge

      Re: Useful fact

      Thanks! That is a very useful fact. Also a weird one.

    2. harmjschoonhoven

      Re: Useful fact

      The Spanish won the battle. The Dutch won the war.

      1. jmch Silver badge

        Re: Useful fact

        "The Spanish won the battle. The Dutch won the war"

        Hence why the airport is called Schiphol and not Las Scipolnas

    3. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Useful fact

      It is also the only major airport below sea level. With the current radio altimeters it isn't a problem anymore, but with the old barometric altimeters foreign pilots used to get upset by flying at negative heights before touching down.

      1. ThatOne Silver badge

        Re: Useful fact

        > airport below sea level

        Somehow this conjured up the image of submarines placidly landing and taking off amongst the planes... Maybe I need a stronger coffee.

        1. bpfh

          Re: Useful fact

          Swap it out for tea. The caffeine is getting to you!

      2. herman

        Re: Useful fact

        Hmm, two Turkish planes crashed at Schiphol when the altitude went negative. In 1951 and again in 2009.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Useful fact

          Have you mixed up some numbers there?

          A quick check, and I can see that Turkish flight 1951 crashed in the year 2009

          Also "altitude went negative" is a bit disingenuous, as that seems to be asserting the crash was somehow related to Schiphol being below sea level and so caused some problem, which wasn't the case.

          It seems the crash was caused by two things:

          1. One of the radio altimeters was intermittently faulty (there were two on the plane), and this showed a negative number sometimes. This fault caused the auto-throttle to switch to retard mode, as it basically though it had already landed. [*]

          2. Crew error. The crew weren't paying enough attention, noticed too late that the plane was going too slow, then responded incorrectly, so the plane stalled on approach, hitting the ground well before reaching the runway.

          Apparently the fault was known about, and had happened previously on the same plane twice, but the crew had followed the proper procedures those times, switching off the auto-throttle and landing the aircraft successfully. For some reason this procedure wasn't followed on the 3rd incident, and crash!

          *] Bear in mind this was a radio altimeter, not a regular altimeter, so measures height above ground, irrespective of where that ground is, not actual altitude (i.e. not altitude above sea level). The radio altimeter should never show a negative, even at Schiphol.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Useful fact

            >The radio altimeter should never show a negative,

            If the radio altimeter show a negative value - you are going to have a bad day

            1. ThatOne Silver badge

              Re: Useful fact

              It means the undertakers have finished their job...

  8. Cybersaber

    Comrade Snowball says...

    "Four legs good, two legs bad."

  9. steven_t

    Sounds like a solution inspired by Angry Birds

    In what other universe are pigs the natural enemy of birds?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Swans can also be complete bastards

    There was a black swan in the harbor I took sailing lesson from. It became a running joke amongst the sailors as paddle boarders and people in rental kayaks would constantly try to paddle up to it and either take it's picture or touch it. It was having none of that and would immediately swim after them and attack without mercy or hesitation.

    He was dubbed Beelzebob, the dark lord of the harbor, and the sailors gave him a wide birth. Grown men would chant his name in hushed tones as he pursued his fleeing victims, hoping his lust for violence would be sated at someone elses expense.

    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: Swans can also be complete bastards

      At Fen Ditton, just outside Cambridge, we used to have a swan, nicknamed Mr Asbo, that attacked rowers so often that in the end he was moved by the Cam Conservators.

      1. Muscleguy

        Re: Swans can also be complete bastards

        We were having lunch at a bench at the Backs in Cambridge when a swan turned up and objected to our football and my shoes. I had to make my shoe highly mobile to shoo him off several times.

  11. DJV Silver badge

    More vicious feathery bastards!

    Back when I were a lad and living in the wilds of Norfolk, the geese at the farm around the corner were afraid of absolutely nothing. One old but not-quite-retired-as-yet lady who needed to get from her house to the local bus stop every day would rather clamber across wet fields than attempt to pass the geese when they had decided to annex the road. They even refused to get out of the way of buses and lorries, and would always gave the driver a good honking when he was trying to do the same to them. Often, the farmer who owned them would have to attempt to round them up before traffic of any kind was allowed to pass.

  12. spold Silver badge

    Hmmmm (or perhaps Hammm)....

    I'm not sure a jet engine will fare any better if it ingests a pig rather than a goose....

    New special at the Amsterham Airport restaurants - BBQ Shredded Pork - extraordinarily good.

    1. Mark 85

      Re: Hmmmm (or perhaps Hammm)....

      Would be good except for the jet fuel aftertaste. White wine with geese I presume?

      1. Irony Deficient

        White wine with geese, I presume?

        I’d’ve thought that a red wine would go better with goose — something light and acidic, like a Pinot noir. If you prefer white wine with goose, a Riesling might pair well.

        1. Robert Helpmann??

          Re: White wine with geese, I presume?

          It depends on whether the bird is wild or domestic. For domestic, I would go with something crisp, like a Riesling. For a wild goose, I would go with a Malbec or similar or perhaps something like a Petite Sirah. I suggest including how the bird is cooked and what it is served with in deciding which to choose. Most important, really, is which wine you like, but these are where I would start given the opportunity.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Hmmmm (or perhaps Hammm)....

      >I'm not sure a jet engine will fare any better if it ingests a pig rather than a goose....

      The virtue of the porcine species is that they are rarely (Pink Floyd excepted) sufficiently airborne to intersect with jet engines

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Pigs with frickin lasers

    They already use lasers. Just attach them to the pigs!

  14. mark4155

    Pigs in blanket - Christmas shortage.

    So that's why our little pigs in blankets will be scarce this Christmas. Come on Schiphol Airport think outside the pen! AKA Box.

    1. Muscleguy

      Re: Pigs in blanket - Christmas shortage.

      I used to make little pork ’n’ fresh sage bangers for Noel pigs in blankets with the roast. Very popular they were. These days I xmas by myself by and large with something less traditional but extremely tasty.

  15. Christoph

    I know someone who is a professional falconer, flying them at airports to drive other birds away.

    His name's Hodges. And Pterry knew him. Yes, that's where the name came from.

    1. edjimf

      Immortalised by Pterry.

      I can think of no higher honour.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      1. David 132 Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        With his wowhawks.

        And it took me far too long to realize that a wowhawk is, of course, a more surprised goshawk.

        1. My-Handle


          You know, I've been reading those books for more than two decades and that one slipped me by every time.

  16. jmch Silver badge

    Innovative solutions

    AFAIK Schiphol is also the place to pioneer the painting of flies on the inside of urinals to entice guys to pee into the urinal and not all around

    1. Mast1

      Re: Innovative solutions

      I thought that was the location that minimised back-splash......

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Innovative solutions

      Manufacturers did this as far back as Victorian times on porcelain urinals. They would often use a picture of a bee rather than a fly (the latin for bee is apis...).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Innovative solutions

        Picture of BoJo would work extremely well nowadays, I gather.

  17. graeme leggett Silver badge

    pigs on beet

    i thought putting pigs on sugar beet fields after harvesting was standard practice anyway whether there was a nearby aerodrome or not

  18. Arbuthnot the Magnificent


    There's a nice little restaurant in Amsterdam called the Struisvogel, haven't been for a couple of years but you could get a tasty "schipholgans" as a main dish; goose culled from the airport.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Schipholgans

      Shredded and crispy fried presumably ?

      1. bpfh

        Re: Schipholgans

        Waiter, there is a piece of titanium in my soup...

  19. JacobZ

    The pigs only have three legs have to know the joke.

  20. teebie

    Listen to the end of the song before deploying ever-larger animals

    Yes, it did seem innovative when the old lady with the spider used it to solve her internal fly problem, but if you concentrate for just a bit longer you will find that she soon died of equiphagy.

  21. PhilipN Silver badge

    Pigs are …. ‘bivouacked’….?

    Never seen that utilisation before. Misread it at first so I thought they were being turned into black pudding.

    Damn now I’m hungry.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Pigs are …. ‘bivouacked’….?

      Strange, since Pigs should have learned the drawbacks of insubstantial housing

  22. ThatOne Silver badge

    Wait a minute!

    > noticed plenty of lush grasses near the runways but failed to spot any pigs

    20 pigs in a 500 acres sugar beet field is one pig for every 25 acres. What are the chances local geese (or anybody) will get to see one? Are we to assume those pigs are able to each eat 25 acres worth of crop residues to starve the geese? They would be elephant-sized after that...

    I smell a marketing operation: Just meant to make the front pages and give the airport some green cred.

  23. herman

    Pigs on the Wing

    I would think that a flying pig would be a lot bigger and more of a serious problem than a goose. Maybe they should try to replace the geese with birds that cannot fly, like Jackass Penguins.

    1. Ol'Peculier

      Re: Pigs on the Wing

      They are. Ask the ATC that were working in 1977 at Heathrow.

      1. David 132 Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Pigs on the Wing

        I get this reference and approve, and I’m sure the knowledgeable folk that frequent this fine forum will too. But in case anyone needs an explainer

  24. Sandstone
    Thumb Up

    New Movie

    The League of Extraordinary Pigs

  25. Mike 16

    bird-detecting radar

    Will the geese be required to carry transponders?

    1. Patched Out

      Re: bird-detecting radar

      Yes, IFF - Identify Friend or Fowl.

      1. bpfh

        Re: bird-detecting radar

        Always foul. Especially when you have to clean their water troughs.

        Less foul when roast with cranberry sauce and foie gras...

  26. My-Handle

    I can't believe I've gotten this far through the comments and haven't seen a single *Honk* yet.

    Perhaps House House should add an extra airport level.

    Shopping list:

    - Let out the pigs

    - Steal a plane ticket

    - Unlatch the luggage car from it's tug

    - Pretend to be a drone and shut down the entire airport


  27. A Nother Handle

    Bastard geese

    I stand in solidarity with the Reg's pig desk. I was bitten by a goose and in my opinion they're only good for eating.

  28. MonsieurTM

    Bacon butties all round!

    Piggie mean one thing to me: bacon! Now the late, great Me. Haines once referred to the "Beer-and-bacon virtuous circle" IIRC....

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    An unlikely battle is currently going on

    didn't they try eagles or hawks a few years back? Anyway, it's absolutely clear where this pig-fest is going: pigs eat geese, pigs get eaten by wolves, wolves get shot by poachers, poachers get pot-shot by police, poachers acquire anti-police gear, police acquire drones, poachers acquire surface-to-air missiles...

  30. Fignuts

    Foul Fowl

    I suspect there is a very good reason why these temperamental avian antagonists are called Fowl. It can't be a coincidence.

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