Why Birds Fly in Front of Cars: Explained

Have you ever wondered why birds seem to have a knack for flying in front of cars? It’s not just your imagination. In the United States alone, millions of birds lose their lives in collisions with cars every year. But why does this happen? Let’s explore some fascinating insights into this avian behavior.

Birds Fly in Front of Cars by Accident

For the most part, birds fly in front of cars unintentionally. As they fly low to the ground, hunting for insects and evading predators, they often fail to perceive the danger posed by fast-moving vehicles. Sometimes, birds may even react defensively when cars encroach upon their territory.

Bird flying in front of a car

Birds Don’t Fly Into Cars on Purpose

Contrary to popular belief, birds rarely fly into cars deliberately. Their natural flight path gets disrupted by the presence of vehicles, making it challenging for them to navigate and avoid collisions. Additionally, birds’ eyes are positioned on the sides of their heads, limiting their depth perception compared to humans. When combined with the speed of cars and clear glass windows, the chances of a collision increase significantly.

Why Birds Fly into Windshields and Windows

Birds often mistake glass surfaces, including car windshields and windows, for open routes. This confusion arises because birds are not accustomed to encountering glass in the natural world. They struggle to differentiate between reflection and reality, perceiving color in a way that makes reflections appear more realistic and enticing. Consequently, they may mistakenly fly into glass, believing it to be open airspace.

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Why Birds Fly Low to the Ground

Birds tend to fly close to the ground for several reasons. Firstly, flying at higher altitudes exposes them to raptors, their natural predators. Additionally, soaring higher requires more energy, and birds prefer to conserve energy whenever possible. Larger birds fly close to the ground when hunting for prey or scavenging food sources, such as roadkill by the side of the road.

Why Birds Sometimes Fly Into Cars on Purpose

Interestingly, evidence suggests that birds occasionally swoop in front of cars to protect their territory. Cars, with their foreign and rapid movements, may trigger a predator response in birds. If you observe a bird darting at a car, flying into the vehicle’s front, or circling it, it is likely attempting to ward off what it perceives as a threat.

How to Avoid Collisions with Birds

To minimize the risk of colliding with birds while driving, it’s crucial to exercise caution. Slow down if you notice a bird crossing your path. Additionally, using windshield reflectors while parked can help prevent birds from flying into your windows and windshield. One such effective option is the MCBUTY Windshield Sun Shade, available on 5 WS, which not only protects against bird collisions but also keeps your car cool under the scorching sun.

Avoiding areas with high concentrations of birds or reducing your speed when driving near bird habitats can significantly decrease the likelihood of collisions. Organizations like the Urban Bird Foundation work tirelessly to mitigate the risk of vehicle-bird collisions. They educate drivers about bird habitat areas, recommend solutions like wildlife underpasses and diversion poles, and monitor high-collision areas to evaluate and implement effective measures.

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What to Do if You Collide with a Bird

In the unfortunate event of a collision with a bird, it’s essential to assess the situation. While many birds may not survive such an impact, it’s wise to contact a wildlife rehabilitation specialist to determine if any assistance is necessary.

If the bird exhibits minor injuries and can perch on a branch, it is best to leave it alone, allowing it the opportunity to recover independently. However, if the bird sustains significant wounds or broken bones, it will require immediate medical attention to survive without surgery.

While awaiting professional help, make sure to keep the injured bird in a dark, quiet place at a comfortable temperature. A shoebox can serve as a suitable temporary shelter, protecting the bird from predators and maintaining warmth during colder seasons. If the bird recovers and flies away when you open the shoebox, it indicates that it no longer requires medical care.

If, unfortunately, the bird is deceased, handle it with care while wearing gloves and move it away from the road to allow for natural decomposition. It’s important to note that keeping migratory birds or their feathers is prohibited under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which safeguards native bird species in the United States.


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