Why Do Birds Fly In Front of Cars? Reasons and Statistics

Almost every driver has experienced this at least once – a confused bird swooping down from the sky and flying directly into the car. It’s undoubtedly a heart-breaking incident and makes one wonder what caused it.

What stands behind this behavior? Are these birds purposely putting themselves in harm’s way? Are they lost and confused? Isn’t their keen eyesight enough to avoid moving vehicles?

The truth is, birds fly purposefully into cars only if they feel threatened. Otherwise, most vehicle collisions occur by accident.

The statistics we’ve discovered are truly distressing. Millions of birds die annually in car collisions! What exactly happens right before they fly into a car? What prompts this flying route? And what birds are at a higher risk of experiencing such a tragic death? Keep reading to discover details.

Why Do Birds Fly In Front of Cars
A Great Egret flying in front of a car

Why Do Birds Fly in Front of Cars?

Birds typically do not fly in front of cars on purpose, and most collisions occur by accidents. Here are some explanations that could shed light on this perplexing phenomenon.

Birds See Cars as Threats

As you probably already know, birds have a strong protective instinct and will go the extra mile to do everything they can to ensure their young’s survival, even if it means crashing into a car. 

Therefore, birds may fly purposefully into cars if they consider them threats or predators. Consequently, they may fly toward one to protect their nests. 

Naturally, they do not intend to kill themselves by doing this, but they fail to judge the car’s speed and often end up injured or dead.

Birds Do Not Perceive Reflections

The majority of vehicle collision incidents occur by accident. Most of the time, the secret stands in reflections.

Birds cannot perceive reflections. When they see trees or anything else reflected in a car’s windows, they are not aware that what they’re seeing is not real. So they just fly right into it.

Birds Have a Different Vision

A bird’s vision is different from a human’s vision. First, its eyes are located on either side of its head, and the eyes do not move within the eye sockets.

Since the eyes are positioned on different sides, they see different things. The left eye sees the environment on the left, while the right eye sees the environment to the right.

Now, this is not too efficient in perceiving the depth of their environment. As such, birds often close one eye and observe the world with the other. This way, a bird can fly into a car and it will not even know about this until it’s too late.

Which Birds Are at Risk of Flying In Front of Cars?

While every bird venturing close to the ground is at risk of getting hit by a car, some are at a higher risk of being injured or dying from vehicle collisions. 

Scavenger birds

Many scavenger birds, like hawks, eagles, crows, and vultures, are attracted to roads because of roadkill. As such, they are at a high risk of flying into a car by accident or being hit by one while feasting on carrion.

Low-Flying Birds

Some birds fly close to the ground either to preserve energy or because that’s where food is abundant.

Moreover, flying at high altitudes equals a higher chance of being preyed upon, so they choose to stay close to the ground. Unfortunately, sometimes this leads to vehicle collisions.

Many birds fly low before a storm because they can sense the changes in barometric pressure. Vehicle collisions occur more often during these intervals.

Long-Winged Birds

Some studies show that long-winged birds are at a higher risk of dying if they accidentally fly into a car.

Apparently, birds with short wings can perform quicker turns if they realize where they’re headed to and can avoid being killed.


Waterbirds are often stunned by the fast-moving vehicles on bridges.

Sometimes the wind currents carry waterbirds perpendicular to bridges, and they end up flying toward cars, realizing it when it’s too late.

Ground-Nesting and Ground-Dwelling Birds

Some bird species, like ducks, geese, turkeys, and pheasants, build their nests close to the ground. Additionally, they spend most of their time foraging on the ground, further increasing the risk of getting hit by or flying in front of a car.

Bird Mortality Caused by Vehicle Collision: Statistics

It has been suggested that vehicle collisions are among the top five causes of bird deaths in the U.S.

A 2014 study estimated that approximately 89-340 million birds die as a consequence of vehicle collisions. And these numbers are only for the U.S.!

Over 13 million birds are killed annually in vehicle collisions in Canada.

Can you imagine how many birds die this tragic death worldwide?!

Why Do Birds Fly in Front of My Car: Spiritual Meaning

Birds have long been regarded as symbols of spirituality, peace, freedom, and joy. Therefore, seeing one crashing into your car must be a truly saddening experience! Does this horrible event carry any spiritual meaning?

In some cultures, people believe that hitting a bird with your car is a sign of bad luck or even death.

Other people believe that a bird flying into one’s car may indicate that a difficult situation is on its way and you’ll have to get the courage up to face it.

A positive interpretation of killing a bird while driving is that you may be getting rid of all that negative energy. This is especially valid if the bird is a crow. Other cultures say that killing a crow while driving leads to prosperity and wealth.

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