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Why do birds fly so low over the road?

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1119968.  Sun Feb 22, 2015 2:41 pm Reply with quote

I spent a lot of time driving on country roads these past two summers and very nearly hit birds that were flying across the road on a regular basis.
I can't help but wonder why the birds don't simply fly away from the large metal object (aka my car) hurtling towards them, or at least fly over it. Instead, they stick low down to the road as I slow down to prevent myself from hitting them.
Is it that they just can't get high enough to fly over the car in the short time before I am already past? My googling has not come up with a satisfactory answer and this is still bothering me from time to time. Maybe somebody has a clue?

1119975.  Sun Feb 22, 2015 3:08 pm Reply with quote

Perhaps they're going through hedges and so can't see - or chasing insects on the verges...

Which brings me to:

Q Why did the bird fly so low across the road?

A To get to the other side.

Ah than'yooo....


1135821.  Wed Jun 03, 2015 2:46 am Reply with quote

sismologue wrote:
very nearly hit birds

Very nearly to you: By slowing down you may be teaching the bird's tiny brain that cars aren't that dangerous anyway. If you are driving very slowly, then your car may also be a magnet which attracts flying insects trying to follow the car. You won't be a driving meal then, but there's hardly a reason for those birds to be scared, and the Unknown Driving Object is trying quite hard to avoid any accident. Attaching a flying hawk kite to your car may work better than just driving. That should look like a dangerous unit to birds, at least initially.

1135822.  Wed Jun 03, 2015 2:56 am Reply with quote

If you think that your low flying bird is bad, you should try driving on roads that share the area with pheasants. These fowl are truly suicidal and nine times out of ten will wait on the verge and then cross the road under the wheels of traffic. We are approaching the time when they are released en masse into the countryside in readiness for the shooting season and hundreds will be milling around of which a goodly percentage will meet their end through their insistence upon playing chicken with cars. It is bloody distressing and I always slow right down, but some other cars do not.

Last edited by NickF on Wed Jun 03, 2015 4:23 am; edited 1 time in total

1135824.  Wed Jun 03, 2015 3:04 am Reply with quote

A lot of animals will attempt to hide for as long as possible, then suddenly panic and run.

I also know of some bird keepers, although I'm not sure if it was pheasants or just something similar, that feed their birds from trucks. That makes for a wonderful assosiation...

1135831.  Wed Jun 03, 2015 4:15 am Reply with quote

Birds don't necessarily get the concept that an approaching vehicle is dangerous, and some work has suggested that while birds can judge some speeds very accurately this stops at about 20-25mph (ie they can accurately judge a speed with some precision up to that value, and then all speeds just become the same "fast" value).

Birds will fly low over large flat surfaces like roads and runways because they can fly in "ground effect", which significantly reduces drag and so means they can fly at the same speed with up to 70% less effort.



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