Birds obey highway speed limits better than you do. That's the latest from the world of scientific research, where the tales and tail feathers grow weirder and weirder all the time.
ScienceNews reported last week that even though birds read only slightly better than the average second-grader, they're much better in math.
No, wait, wrong report. It's this one from behavioral ecologist Pierre Legangneux of the University of Quebec in Rimouski, who asserts that birds gain a sense of average speeds on any given roadway.
So when you crest a hill to see scavenger birds merrily applying beak to roadkill, they're also counting off the seconds before you, at the speed limit, will reach them. ''One bag of carrion, two bags of carrion, three bags of carrion ... ''
They've worked out the calculations and know the exact moment to take flight to avoid becoming avian souffle.
It's also how the smaller birds can swoop in front of your car grill without nicking a plume. They calculated the distance needed to clear an oncoming car driving the speed limit.
The obvious conclusion: Had you let your canary help with your homework, you might have passed geometry.
Also, if you hit a bird with your car, you were speeding, Legangneux says.
Birds also come equipped with original manufacturer GPS systems as standard features. Birds can migrate thousands of miles and find the same nest every time.
Throw one simple detour in my path and I'm lost for hours. But take a bird off its course and it still will flap and flutter its way right back to the exact same spot as the year before without once pulling over to ask for directions.
Birds know. So if someone calls you a birdbrain, thank them for recognizing your genius.
Because I'm trying to figure out how a critter so doggone smart can behave so mulishly stupid. Take picture windows.
I get why a bird might fly into a window once. I once watched a woman walk smack into a sliding glass door. She said it wasn't her fault. The glass was too clean. She also wondered why I didn't warn her.
What, and spoil the fun? Besides, it didn't take the hosts all that long to fix the door.
Sort of the same thing happens to birds. Glass is invisible, and it reflects images of trees, sky, bushes or other outside scenes, according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
But here's the curious part. Birds will study the window and can't see, then try again. And again. And again. It is determined to blast through the glass.
Various folks have solved the problem by affixing black silhouettes of hawks or crows to their windows.
Personally, I favor the much more environmentally friendly approach of simply not washing my windows. I have tried to explain the soundness of this theory to my wife. I guess she doesn't like birds as much as I do.
But here's what I'm going to do. If for some cruel reason I ever have to take trigonometry again, before each test, I'm going to bang my beak on plate glass windows. Then I'll be able to find the classroom and ace the calculations.
It works for the birdbrains.
---- Cole's first novel, ''Bash and the Pirate Pig,'' releases Sept. 1 from B&H Kids. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook.