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It’s that time of year again. Migratory birds are hitting the road and heading for their overwintering grounds. But the birds aren’t just hitting the road metaphorically. In some cases they're doing it literally. That's the case with a Western Grebe who was found stranded on the shoulder of a road in Gold Bar, WA. Fortunately, he was scooped up by a concerned citizen and brought to PAWS for care.

Western Grebe

From the air, the wet pavement looks a lot like the surface of a lake or pond. The illusion is so convincing that migrating birds sometimes come in for a landing on a road or in a parking lot, not realizing their mistake until it is too late. Grebes, loons and a few other groups of water birds are so specialized for their aquatic life that they struggle to walk or even stand on dry land. They are also small winged and heavy bodied, so taking flight without first running along on the water’s surface is not possible. Even if they don’t suffer injuries in the process, a crash landing on pavement puts them in a life-threatening situation.

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