Why are birds so good at avoiding getting hit by cars?


There will be times I’m on normal roads or even driving fast on a highway and have had very close encounters with birds flying aross the front of my car.

I never see dead birds on the road so I just assume they have some kind of special airflow mechanism that allowed them to avoid accidents.

In: 111

The ones you meet are the ones that have gotten really good at not getting hit. The others are dead. There are plenty of birds that don’t quite make it. Our experience gets kinda skewed since the ones that learn to not get hit while flying by cars can usually keep doing it and getting better while the dead ones don’t.

I once hit a seagull with my car, it just swooped into it as I was driving. Not sure if it lived. There not all smart enough.

It’s likely survivorship bias.

You’re likely only seeing the birds that are healthy and know how to maneuver and have good reaction times and are discounting sick birds or ones that may not have the skills to maneuver well.

It does help that (edit, some) birds are able to fly off the ground so there’s that going for them.

Most birds can sense shifts in pressure and wind, it allows them to adapt to wind and turbulence. Cars are very fast pockets of wind and pressure disturbance. A healthy fast bird can’t sort of predict where and how your car will move thanks to this and fly around it most times.

I couple of years ago I watched a German documentary about birds living near highways/autobahn and how their flight behaviour and even wings have physically adapted. Those who didn’t adapt died, it’s selection.