I have actually experienced this a few times and expect it is not uncommon.
While living in the states I picked up a Common Loon off a country road deep in
the mountains of North Carolina, it was a migrant and the previous night was a
full moon...Loons are only passage migrants through this area. When in NZ two
years ago in the "pelagic capital of Kaikoura" I drove around the town and
picked up over 30 Hutton's Shearwarters off the main highway and dropped them
backinto the surf. The following day there were many squished birds along the
roadside...then last year we had a Whistling-duck thud onto the tin roof of our
cottage out in Samford...however this was an almost a moonless night.
Samford Valley, SEQ
From: Chris Gregory <>
To: birdingaus mailing list <>
Sent: Thursday, 15 December 2011 3:05 PM
Subject: Grebes mistake car park for lake
A few months ago a friend of a friend living in the Blue Mountains, NSW
reported an adult Hoary-headed Grebe in a backyard near Wentworth Falls
whilst another had made it to a nearby lake. They were subsequently
reunited. I was interested in the report, Here is the gist of the email
"I am interested in the the story of the Grebe in the backyard. Grebes are
nomadic and generally fly at night in their search for water. They pick a
clear moonlit night and look for water reflecting in the moonlight. However
it is not uncommon for them to mistake shiny tin roofs for water and in the
bush many a farmer has been startled by Grebes and other waterbirds landing
on their roof in the dead of night (probably not as startled as the
birds!). Another explanation is you live in the mountains and what may have
started as a clear night suddenly became hazardous as mist or cloud rolled
in making water spotting impossible.
Obviously I don't know the details of your Grebe but just thought it worth
mentioning! It's great the story had a happy ending and let's hope lots of
Greblets are forthcoming."
"You are quite right of course to mention the grebe predilection for
inappropriate landing sites! Most of the grebes that come into care have
simply landed in the wrong place and can't take off from dry land. Those
pesky lobes aren't built for walking! Sometimes it's a backyard where
they're found sheepishly standing beside a goldfish pond and often it's
beside a strip of bitumen road which they've clearly mistaken for water. I
haven't heard of landing on rooves but that's a wonderful piece of
information - thankyou. I put forward exhaustion as a theory when we
realised there was a partner - why would one come down and not the other?
It's interesting to ponder but we'll probably never know!
Usually it's the dispersing juveniles who get themselves into trouble. I
released one such juvenile Great Crested onto Wentworth Falls Lake a few
months ago. It was therefore very exciting to see an adult in breeding
plumage up so close and personal!
The pair is still on the Lake and were seen today performing their
courtship dance on the water so it's looking good for grebelts."
On 15 December 2011 15:15, Chris <> wrote:
> When I worked for a month at Newhaven Reserve back in 2004 I had a Coot
> land on my roof at about 3am and wander around quite confused for half an
> hour (very noisily). It was on a bright moonlit night and the tin roof
> would have glowed like water from above I'm sure.
> Sent from my iPhone
> On 15/12/2011, at 13:07, Nikolas Haass <> wrote:
> > It is quite a common phenomenon in Europe that grebes accidentally land
> on wet freeways or parking lots. However, the numbers in this Utah case are
> > Cheers,
> > Nikolas
> > ----------------
> > Nikolas Haass
> > Sydney, NSW
> > ________________________________
> > From: Gemfyre <>
> > To:
> > Cc: birding-aus <>
> > Sent: Thursday, December 15, 2011 1:07 PM
> > Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] Grebes mistake car park for lake
> > I once heard a rumour that grebes often land on the runways at Perth
> > and every morning a truck goes out with people to gather them up and
> > them to a nearby wetland - but I have never seen/heard proof of it. Now
> > tempted to see if I can find out more.
> > Belinda
> > Stirling W.A.