Category Archives: Michigan Technological University

snarge: something’s sticking to my windshield

One of my very favorite weblogs from Michigan Tech is the aptly named Backyard Arthropod Project: A Field Guide to the North Side of Old Mill Hill, Atlantic Mine, MI, which is written in a style that a professional metallurgist and amateur entomologist can do.  It's hosted on .

This week's post is a very lovely photo set of a Canadian Tiger Swallowtail butterfly.  The account of the identification of the Papilio canadensis is accompanied by a story of how it was collected, footnoted of course, with this note about the use of the word "snarge":

[2] I just heard this word on the news recently, as a direct result
of the airliner that had to ditch in the Hudson river when its engines
both quit, possibly due to birds getting sucked into them
. It seems
that, when birds hit aircraft, the FAA always wants to know what kind
of bird it was, so that they can figure out their habits and try to
work out how to keep them away from the planes. So, they send any
remains that they find stuck to the plane afterwards to the Smithsonian
Institution’s Feather Identification Laboratory
, who figure out what it
was when it was alive. The technical term for these remains is
“snarge”. Technically, I suppose it is limited to what you get when
birds collide with aircraft, but I think it is legitimate to generalise
it to “remains of any animal after colliding with any vehicle”. So the
bug smears on your windshield, and the moths in your radiator, are all

When my stepdad used to collect recently deceased animals to have his students check for parasites for his biology classes at Northern Michigan University, we called it roadkill; I guess snarge is a fancy federal name for airborne roadkill.

The FAA Airport Wildlife Hazard
Mitigation Home Page
has much much more information on this topic, including a searchable database of bird strikes and lots of detailed data.