A pigeon that collided with a van going 60mph travelled 20 miles down the M23 stuck in the vehicle’s air intake pipe - and survived.
The lucky bird flew off with nothing more than a few ruffled feathers once freed by staff at Broadbridge Heath Garage following the hour-long ordeal on Wednesday, May 29.
“A very good customer gave us a call saying he’d lost power on the M23 after he saw a pigeon fly down at the front of the van and didn’t see it come back out,” explained James Baughan, owner of Broadbridge Heath Garage.
“The van still drove but it was under power. He turned up an hour later and there was a big hole at the front of the grill with lots of feathers by the radiator and it looked and sounded like it was being starved of air.”
James’ team then removed the air box to find the pigeon sat neatly in the air intake.
“They literally leapt back in shock when they saw the head of the pigeon,” continued the 37-year-old.
“What had happened was it had gone through the solid radiator and then tried to fly out, but the suction from the diesel engine had sucked it into the air intake. I don’t how that thing survived, I really don’t.”
The RSPCA were called but in an attempt to rescue the pigeon themselves, an employee put gloves on and pushed the pigeon back out of the pipe and it flew away unharmed.
“It looked quite annoyed actually and had one of those faces of ‘will you just stop looking at me and get me out of here’,” added James.
“How it could hit the van at that speed and survive and not have a heart attack during it is incredible. The van driver was mortified though that he’d driven all that way with the pigeon stuck.
“It’s one of those things that you will never ever see again. It was a very strange experience.”