Last updated: September 14. 2013 11:38PM - 2150 Views
By - tvenesky@timesleader.com

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For some reason there are certain species of wildlife that just seem to avoid becoming roadkill.

During the summer, woodchucks and rabbits are frequent victims along area roads.

As we head into fall, deer will top the list, joined by the occasional black bear.

Virtually all wildlife are susceptible to meeting their end on a road.

With a few exceptions.

I have never seen a roadkilled crow and I don’t know anyone who has hit one. Still, I always see crows along roads, especially the interstates, and I’ve even watched them use the paved surfaces and speeding cars to aid in getting a meal.

I once watched a crow fly over Interstate 80 and drop a walnut on the road right in front of me. The tires of my car crushed the shell, and as I glanced back in the rear-view mirror I watched the crow land on the road and quickly consume exposed walnut.

Pretty clever.

Crows are also a common site scavenging the edges of roads for food scraps and even other roadkill for an easy meal. I’ve watched them pick at a roadkilled deer, or anything else, along the edge of the interstate as cars and trucks raced by merely inches away.

The crows held their ground and kept eating.When a vehicle did get too close, the birds quickly flew back a few feet and waited for it to pass.

Yet they never got hit.

Crows simply know how to get out of the way of a speeding car, even if it seems they push the limits at times.

Another bird that seems to have a knack for avoiding being smacked by a car is the turkey vulture.

It’s surprising, considering their penchant for consuming roadkill. They aren’t very agile either as they pump their powerful 30-inch wingspan just to lift off the ground.

Still, turkey vultures rarely become roadkill.

I had never seen one hit on the road until this summer on a route I frequently travel. When I passed through in the morning I noticed a roadkilled opossum partly squished on the center line.

It made for perfect turkey vulture bait.

Sure enough, as I drove by a few hours later, two of the enormous birds stood over the opossum, using their broad wings to lift off just as I rounded the corner.

It wasn’t until the next day when I traveled the road again that I saw another animal had joined the opossum on the road.

It was a turkey vulture. Apparently the bird let it’s guard down for a second too long and focused more on consuming the opossum than it did on an oncoming vehicle.

And I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of someone intentionally speeding up to run the bird over either. For whatever reason, such idiotic acts do occur.

No matter the cause, this particular vulture was the first one I had ever seen hit on the road.

Unlike crows and turkey vultures, most other species aren’t that lucky when it comes to risking their lives on a road.

Pennsylvania frequently leads the country in vehicle-deer collisions. According to State Farm Insurance Company, Pennsylvania led the nation in vehicle-deer collisions from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012 with 115,571. Nationwide, the figure was more than 1.2 million deer hit by vehicles during the same time span.

Even bears aren’t exempt from the danger of crossing a road. This year, in the northeast region alone, the Pennsylvania Game Commission reports 72 bears have been killed on roads as of Sept. 10. I’ve seen several along Interstate 81.

Yet when it comes to crows and turkey vultures, I’ve only ever seen one hit on the road.

For some reason, when it comes to playing chicken it’s better to have wings than hooves or paws.

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