Avoiding birds - Tough choices for immediate reaction 

C172 — N821SD — North Perry Hollywood, FL — T&Go's, Go-arounds, Gusty Winds, 6 Landings — 0.8 hrs

(More Touch & Go's...)

Taking off, full power, climb attitude, low altitude. Heading out on another 1hr practice flight. Oops, there's a bird right in my flight path.

What to do? 

If I hit the bird, I kill him, very messy, perhaps damage the plane, windshield, propeller, or engine, or otherwise prevent the pilot (me) from full control of the plane.

But what choices do I have?

  1. Climb to pass over. A good maneuver for the bird, but risks a power-on stall, and thus hopefully a recovery... At less than 500ft AGL. Not ideal.

  2. Veer left or right. Can depend on direction the bird is flying and intercepting your course. But generally too slow a maneuver to roll into a bank and wait for a turn. Plus it reduces the vertical lift, and still risks a stall there again.

  3. Duck to pass under. This is what I chose instinctively, however does pose risk as birds can dive quickly if frightened and again reduces the altitude when we're already too low.

What would you do?