Bird strikes are a considerable hazard to the aviation industry, which has led airports to develop detailed management strategies to identify and reduce the risk of them. These strategies include plans to modify bird habitats in and around airports to limit the establishment of high-risk species. Although airports are generally located on the outskirts of towns and cities, they may be encroached on by urban sprawl. In this study, we examined how an urbanization gradient affects the bird community around an air force base in Cape Town (South Africa) and quantified how this could modify the hazard of bird–aircraft collision. We surveyed the bird community in and around the Air Force Base Ysterplaat across four seasons and categorized species based on their response to increased urbanization (urban avoiders, adapters and exploiters). By combining this with species-specific information on body size, flock size, flight behaviour and abundance, we showed that although urbanization affects bird composition, the overall hazard of bird–aircraft collision is consistent regardless of urban response. However, urbanization complicates mitigation in the matrix surrounding the airport and creates novel challenges for the management of bird hazards. Therefore, new bird hazard management strategies should be integrated within community-driven land-use planning to minimize the negative effects of bird–aircraft collisions.