Monday, 6 January 2014

Do birds understand traffic?

Driving my daughter to work takes me along a busy narrow winding country road. This morning there was a crow and a sparrow-like bird pecking at the carcass of a perhaps a rabbit or some small animal in the middle of my side of the road. Being early all the cars had their head lights on though it was not dark. As I rounded the bend and saw the birds ahead of me I slowed slightly but also hoped they would fly off in time and they did.

On the return journey I saw the crow ahead of me on the other side of the road where there was a brief respite in traffic. My headlights were on but the crow did not flicker. It was busy picking and pulling at the flesh and interestingly kept turning its head as if looking for any oncoming traffic. It did not turn towards my direction on the opposite side of the road and that is my point. Do the birds understand traffic flow and that vehicles on that side of the road would be coming from that direction only?


rashbre said...


I know birds have good eyes for handling all the flight geometry and even have extra visual range so they can see infra red. I'm guessing it means that berries etc really stand out from foliage.

I've also observed that there's usually extra bird casualties in the spring, based upon newbie birds flying too low over roads and getting hit by traffic.

Altogether an interesting topic to piece together.

rashbre said...

...silly me though, I meant ultra violet, not infra red!

Doris said...

Tch! Of course it should be ultra violet ... LOL not that I would have noticed or picked up on it ;-)

Interesting about the Spring bird casualties.

I notice I have been more aware of bird behaviours since then.

Jay said...

Crows are smart birds. They probably understand things in a way that most birds don't. However, I think as Rashbre says, they will understand geometry as applied to flight (which probably covers moving cars in their little birdy brains) and certainly will understand things swooping towards them.

The ones that annoy me are the Collared Doves which must truly be the 'bird brains' of the bird world. They will watch something coming at them and not move until it's almost too late - I've so nearly run over many of them. Our first greyhound caught three, too, because they DID leave it too late, silly things.