How to Survive Being Hit by a Car; a Robin’s Story

While an accurate count is hard to come by, it is estimated that as many as a million wild animals are killed on US roads and highways every day – close to 400 million (over 200 million birds alone) of our wild neighbors killed by cars and trucks each year.

At Humboldt Wildlife Care Center, BAX over 10% of our patients are known to have been hit by a car. As any casual observer can attest, the number of wild animals seen by the side of the road is overwhelmingly huge. So far this year, we’ve admitted just over 90 patients, 14 of whom were known to have been struck by a vehicle. Of those 14, only two were able to be released. One of those two, was a lucky American Robin (Turdus migratorius).

Admitted on a Saturday afternoon after being found struggling on the ground along the Indianola cutoff between Eureka and Arcata, the young male was fortunate that none of his bones had been fractured by the impact.

After an initial dose of anti-inflammatory medicine, to ease pain and help him recover, our patient spent his first night indoors. The next day we moved him to an outdoor aviary where we could observe his behavior and assess him for release.

After two days outdoors, his reflexes were returned, he was harder to capture, and he’d even gained a couple of grams, courtesy the mealworms we provided for his nutrition.

We had a few Robins pass through our clinic while he was in care. To distinguish  between patients, temporary leg bands are used… 

… which are removed prior to release. And this Robin checked out great after 4 days in care.

Near to where he was found is a nice secluded bit of forest, safe from cars, that will allow him to reacquaint himself with his freedom at his own pace.

Immediately he left the box and perched above the release crew in nearby branches.

Working his way farther and farther from his former captor-helpers…

… until at last he takes to the sky and leaves…

This Robin is one of the very few lucky birds who survive being hit by a vehicle. And without your support that keeps our doors open, he wouldn’t have survived either. In a world where shocking violence takes the lives of so many, so regularly, we often forget that our wild neighbors endure a commonplace slaughterhouse that we humans built and regard as nearly a human right – to smooth pavement, to individual travel that moves 20 times faster than our own legs can carry us, to not be concerned with the toll it takes on other lives.

Thanks to your support, we are here for those victims of the highways, to help in whatever we can – from ending the suffering of those who’ve been horribly battered but are still alive, to providing care for those who can recover, to helping keep our wild neighbors in mind – to reminding our motorist neighbors to slow down, to see the birds and the mammals who must find ways to cross the asphalt meat grinders we’ve put up all over the world.  If you can help us, please do – we operate on a meager budget that wouldn’t exist at all without you. Thanks for helping!

photos: Laura Corsiglia/ BAX