Of the 26,000 birds that were killed at JFK airport over the past five years, 1,628 of them were protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. According to DNAinfo these Great Egrets, red-winged blackbirds, American kestrels, snowy egrets, semipalmated plovers, snowy owls, and least sandpipers all died because The Port Authority's bird depredators are allowed to shoot if they pose "a direct threat to human safety."

Yet the contract between the PA and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service does not require any details on the deaths of the protected birds. "If a bird they kill is not listed on the permit, they never have to explain why they needed to kill that animal, why it was an emergency," Jennifer Barnes, an attorney with Friends of Animals says. The organization has filed a federal lawsuit to halt the killing of the protected birds, which usually carries a fine of up to $15,000 or six months in prison.

A spokeswoman for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service responded to the allegations that they were indiscriminately killing protected wildlife by noting that they operated in compliance with the law. "More than 90 percent of the wildlife encountered at airports is chased away. Others aren't attracted to the airport due to habitat change," she added."

In 2012, the Port Authority gave us a terse interview about their bird depredation efforts. A relevant excerpt:

Is there a sort of "order of operations" to the tools used on the birds? In other words, do you always use the noisemakers or lasers before the shotguns?

No, the specific techniques used are based on various factors, including but not limited to the species, whether that bird has been previously controlled, location of the birds on the airfield, past behavior of that species, whether the shooting zone is safe, and time of year (migratory vs. breeding seasons).