Driving can be a dangerous activity, especially for critters who venture onto busy motorways. The evidence is spelled out in lumps of blood and fur on the side of the road – animals should avoid moving vehicles. Unfortunately, animals must often cross these paths at their peril to forage for food or locate a mate. Their demise is one of the many consequences of using automobiles for transportation. But let’s think for a moment, why do birds get hit by cars?
If you’ve ever struck a bird with your car, then you probably felt bad for the poor creature, but kept on driving as you should have. Yes, you are a bad person for killing an innocent and beautiful creature, but we’re not here to dispense judgement, we’re here to find out why a bird, which can fly, was hit by a car, which cannot.
Flight gives birds the ability to travel at nearly any height they choose. If you don’t understand the mechanics of flight, think of it as swimming in the air. Some birds can reach heights of 30,000 feet during migration, but most of them fly below 500 feet over shorter distances. There are two competing theories which attempt to explain why birds choose to fly at vehicle height instead of easily soaring above traffic.
The first possible conclusion is obvious: birds aren’t intelligent enough to know that they shouldn’t fly in front of cars. This explanation is logical and convincing, but not very interesting.
The second conclusion is that the birds that fly in front of cars are actually teenage male birds trying to show off to their friends and potential girlfriends. Why else would they dart out at the last second when they can clearly hear and see a vehicle approaching? Birds, like humans, want to be cool, and sometimes being cool means taking risks. There’s nothing cool about flying safely over a car to the other side of the road.
Why did the chicken cross the road? Because all of his friends were watching.