Dr. Wurm summed it up well. I can provide more insight on this if anyone cares. Will be long, sorry!
First off, the rest of the crew seems to be forgotten. The captain deserves praise, but he's only half the flight crew. The first officer had just as much a hand in this as the captain. For some reason unknown to me news reports are neglecting this fact. The F/O's experience nearly matched that of the captain, and he also should be praised for this outcome. Flying the plane is only part of the problem, the non flying pilot is extremely busy securing the engines, setting flaps, calling out speeds, monitoring sink rates, preparing the a/c systems for the ditching, etc. Also - the cabin crew did an excellent job getting everyone out safely. I bet from people will pay attention to the flight attendant bri*****s now!
Anyway, airports are required to have wildlife management program. I worked in one for 3 years. But it only helps protects inside the airport perimeter itself, and doesn't protect the approach or climb out phases. Bird strikes are very common. But most of the time, the pax won't know it because their is no issues that arise from it. But sometimes it's disastrous. Many military planes have downed due to bird strikes. A Sentry in Alaska hit a flock of geese on takeoff and the plane subsequently crashed and killed all on board. Fighter planes have ingested them resulting in the pilots ejecting and the plane crashing.
Most of the time, the strikes hit a structural component of the plane and don't get ingested. It may result in a dent in the wing, break a landing light, leave a smudge on the radome. More dangerous is when they hit the windscreen - it can instantly kill the pilot. Turbine engines are amazingly resilient - they spin at tremendous speeds, have to be able to withstand high loads (g -force changes induced by turbulence) while spinning at those speeds, work in 100+ F temps all the way down to -60F temps or colder, be able to operate in icing conditions (don't get me started on the risks of ice ingestion), be able to operate in downpours without flaming out or losing thrust (an engine flying through a heavy rain shower, due to speed, is equivalent to having a firehose pointed full blast into the intake)... etc etc. Even though the blades are titanium, they are operating at such extreme rpms that an object hitting them can result in catastrophic shearing and vibrational forces and cause the blade(s) to seperate from the shaft - which is sucked into the rest of the engine which causes engine destruction. A 12 lb bird hitting a plane at only 150 mph (within seconds after takeoff this speed is surpassed) has force equal to a 1000 lb weight being dropped from 10 feet!
Most engines can withstand a small bird, or even a couple being ingested. It will cause damage, but they can usually be shut down safely. A bird the size of a goose however it like throwing a grenade into the fan. Even still, it happens, and normally results in one engine being shut down, with a return to the airport on the remaining good engine. What is extremely rare is a dual ingestion of such large birds. It happens, but it is rare thankfully. A screen in front of th engine in theory is a good idea, but it would severely limit airflow, in even light icing conditions would ice up to the point it would be a wall. Also, at the speeds involved the bird would pass through the screen and be ingested anyway. Another problem is that the screen would be a potential ingestion risk itself.
I've had quite a few birdstrikes. On approach in a turboprop we hit a flock of starlings. We landed normally and during the walk around saw what a mess it was. The entire leading edges of the wings were peppered with bird guts, the prop blades were a mess (no damage though), but the turbine sections of both engines took damage. One engine had a foot hanging out the tailpipe. The nose was a bloody mess also. Ugh..
Another time in the jet we hit two ducks on take off. It was my takeoff and I never even saw them. But we both felt and heard them hit. Upon the after landing inspection we found the entire radome had caved in on itself and ruined the wx radar dish! Both ducks were impacted inside, just on the other side of the wall in front of our feet!
Here's the wikipedia if interested: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bird_strike
Some accidents attributed to strikes: http://www.birdstrike.org/events/signif.htm
There's also a lot of youtube videos of bird ingestion tests and other engine tests such as water intake, etc. Interesting stuff - to me at least!