Think it can't happen? One motorist in Massachusetts had to deal with a turkey demolishing his windshield, while one in the Netherlands was not only left with a gaping hole in the glass, but was bitten by the goose that did the damage. Turkeys and geese may be larger than seagulls and crows, but all birds can be dangerous projectiles when they collide with a car and can easily shatter windshield glass. While the odds are against it ever happening, here's what to do if it ever happens to you.
Stay calm and pull over.
It's scary whenever anything hits your windshield and even more so if a hole suddenly appears or the windshield falls out altogether. The windshield is made of safety glass, which means it probably won't break cleanly like a pane of window glass. Unfortunately, it's impossible to predict how it will break – the impact could form a web of cracks rendering it nearly opaque, the glass could partially detach from the frame, or the bird could pierce it and leave a gaping hole. No matter what happens, it will probably be difficult to see what's ahead of you. Don't let panic take over. Turn on your hazard lights, use your mirrors to check the traffic to the sides and behind you, and pull over as safely as you can.
Don't try to "help" the bird.
The bird may bounce off the windshield, or it may end up on your passenger seat or in your lap. While you are still in traffic, don't get distracted by a dazed or wounded bird – focus on staying out of the way of oncoming vehicles. When you have made your way to the side of the road, don't try to catch or help the bird from the driver's seat. It may bite, scratch or fight you, so get out of the vehicle safely before dealing with the bird.
Use common sense.
If the bird is still alive, use good judgment. If you open the door to let it out, a wounded turkey or duck could stagger into oncoming traffic where people will swerve to avoid it and cause a serious accident. The safest option may be to leave it in your car, even if it messes up the interior.
If you are in an area where there is little traffic and you can get away from the road, open the door and stand behind it to shield yourself – the bird may find its way out and head for the protection of a wooded area. If you are on a busy road with lots of cars whizzing by, don't take a chance.
Wait for assistance.
If the bird is wounded but hardly moving, let law enforcement or animal control handle it. Trying to handle a wounded animal can make their injuries worse, and you could also get injured in the process. If it's obviously dead, there's nothing you can do except let the police write the accident report for your insurance company. You might want to take a picture for insurance purposes if you'll be making a claim for damage to the seats or dashboard, but again, use common sense. Don't bother with pictures if it's not safe to do so.
A bird going through a windshield is rare, but it can happen. If it does, treat it like any other accident and pull over - don't drive with a hole in the windshield and don't worry about the bird. It's natural to want to help a wounded bird, even one that just damaged your car, but don't place your life or others' at risk. Have the car towed to an auto glass repair shop to have the windshield replaced. Even if the glass didn't break, it should still be inspected for damage. These experts have seen damage from all sorts of things and won't be shocked by feathers in the glass or even a bird in the car. Whether they replace, repair or simply inspect it, they'll make sure your windshield is safe. Click here to learn more about auto glass replacement.