Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Big Bird

Last Saturday I went for a ride, as is my usual habit.  It was predicted by the weather guessers that it would be in the seventy degree ballpark in the afternoon.  Can't miss a day like that! 

I ended up going just a little over 130 miles, and I'll write about the details of the ride later, but I had one encounter early in the day that was striking.

When there is an animal that has met its demise along our roadways, there are some times when the cleanup crew doesn't get there to scoop it up right away.  In fact, if there is a deer strike for example, and the carcass is still warm, there may be bunches of people who stop to pick it up for processing into tasty venison -- providing a service without taxpayer cost -- and providing some family with a feast.  . 

When the deceased is smaller, nature takes over nicely.

And that is where big bird comes in.

You see, there were several of them feeding on some carrion in a wooded area by the road on the early part of my route.  As usual, they had one eye on the prey, and one on the road scanning for approaching traffic.  These three fellows had the timing just right as I approached.  They took flight at about the same time and flew off to some safe and convenient nearby perch.

Common Raven -- photo by David Hofmann, Santa Rosa, CA

Except for one of them.  He took his flight, but right at me.  The next thing I knew, there was a disheveled mess of black feathers heading right for my face.  I ducked as best I could.  A split second after that black feather boa spread over my face shield, came a thump of significant magnitude, despite my attempt to duck down to avoid it.


I heard my neck bones crackling as the back of my helmet hit the collar of my suit.  I estimate that the weight of this bird was somewhere between that of a flatiron and a locomotive.

Fortunately, I recovered quickly from the impact, and my state of amazement at what he did.  When I again opened my eyes, I found that I was still upright, and mostly in my own lane.  I motored on a little further, when it dawned on me that maybe I ought to go back and snap a picture of evidence for you, kind readers.  I turned around at the next intersection, and went back, scouting carefully for the unfortunate feathered creature with underdeveloped navigational skills.

Alas, he must have survived to feed on the road kill another day.  Either that or he fluttered off into the forest to die in peace.  Either way, I couldn't find him.

A little while later, after my heart rate had slowed down a bit more, I stopped to take a look at my trusty protective helmet.  There was a greasy streak on the shield, but no forfeited feathers, and no gooey excreta. Surprising, that.  I think my errant feathered friend(?) might have been no worse for wear than before our little encounter. 

So, I don't have the evidence, but it was sure a real encounter for me.  My neck doesn't hurt, and the crackling I heard was probably just some breaking loose of a few calcium deposits that accumulate with old age. Saves me a trip to the quack chiropractor. Great, huh? 

No harm, no foul.

Or is that no fowl

Good lesson here.  No matter what type of close encounter with a road hazard you have, ATGATT is an important watchword.  It was for me that day. 

How about you?  What close encounters have you had?  



Charlie6 said...

Now that's a good road hazard story!

Best I've got are some kind of bugs here in Colorado, you can kind of see them coming at you while riding so you try to duck....they must be hard-shelled cause it sounds like a rock just hit your visor!

rc5695 said...

Glad you kept 'er up! I'm sure that was scary! Never had one hit me, but been real close before. heck, in teh fall a leafe sound slike a rock hitting the facesheild, so i'm sure it sounded much worse than it was. I can't image gettign your head knocked back like that though! Hopefully it didn't get your super-clean bike dirty :)