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Helmet, meet (big) bird!


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Riding on Hwy 244 in eastern Oregon last Thursday, I had an encounter with a very large hawk. I was leading with my son Adam behind me and our friend Rich in the rear. We were doing a pretty good clip anyway and had just passed a couple of cars. Probably doing about 70 mph. We went around a corner and had just gotten into a straight when this large bird sprang up from the left, off the road, and flew straight into my path. I just had time to duck and...WHAM! The bird hit the top of my helmet, went straight up in the air, over Adam and landed in front of Rich. He didn't run over him. Probably would have better if had.


We stopped a few hundred yards up the road to gather ourselves and I needed to take stock of my condition. Bike ok. Helmet ok. No damage, just thankful it didn't hit a little lower and smash into my face directly. It probably would have knocked me off by bike. As it was, it was more of a glancing blow fortunately.


I looked back and could see it laying in the road. I wanted to take a picture for evidence of the encounter. When I rode up to the bird, it suddenly jumped to it's feet. Evidently it was stunned and not dead, but it's right wing was badly broken. I took the picture and told him I was sorry. Yeah, yeah, I know but I felt terrible. If I'd had a gun I would have shot it. The poor thing tried to fly away when I started moving but, of course, merely fell on it's side and walked to the side of the road.


I left but couldn't get the sight of that crippled, doomed bird out of my mind. In retrospect, I think maybe I should have called ODFW and reported it. Perhaps it could have been saved. Now I feel guilty.


Ironically, the day before, we were riding south on WA 25, along Franklin Roosevelt Lake when a couple, even larger, birds swooped in from the right. I ducked they were so close. Not sure how close, but close enough to cause concern. Weird.


It's usually deer motorcyclists, and me, usually concern ourselves with, but the unexpected can happen anytime. This could have been a disaster!



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As an old farm boy I was taught the technique of gabbing the bird (chickens/turkeys or in your case an unnamed bird) by the head and with a quick circular snap of the wrist...presto...chango...dead bird. After you do it a few hundred times you get the hang of it!


Next time you're in Arizona stop by and we'll go riding and when you hit another bird I'll give you a lesson!

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That's a scary story--I've been hit with a bee before, and that little thing felt like a moon rock. I can't imagine being hit by a bird that size.


I would have felt as badly as you did about the broken, wing too. I'm glad you emerged unhurt.

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der Wanderer

Nothing you could have done to save the bird, only make the end a bit shorter for it. I understand you might feel sad but don't feel bad.


So, to lighten up the mood, it a 3 lbs bird hits a helmet at a combined speed of 60 mph, how does that compare with dropping the helmet from a couple feet and should the helmet be changed?


I was anal enough to do the math - discounting air drag effects for laziness. It's a 100 foot drop... So if the bird did anything more than just graze the helmet, besides the real possibility it would have broken your neck, the helmet is toast.



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There are actualy quite a few bird of prey rescues around the states, and if you contact animal control they will get the bird to them in alot of areas around the country. Really not much other than that you could have done for it though, and with out MUCH thicker gloves than we use getting your hands anyplace near that beak probably wouldn't be good. Good thing you ducked, that would have been painfull other wise.

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