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Cockatoo survives after getting stuck in grille of car travelling at 100kph

ABC News logo ABC News 12/10/2018 By Daniel Keane
Pretzel the cockatoo — who survived a trip in a vehicle's grille in the Adelaide Hills. © Provided by ABC News Pretzel the cockatoo — who survived a trip in a vehicle's grille in the Adelaide Hills.

A sulphur-crested cockatoo hit by a car at high speed has amazed animal rescuers, after it was cut free from the vehicle's front grille with a squawk but barely a scratch.

However, the wildlife volunteer who helped retrieve the bird said she believed the creature might have brought the ordeal on itself — by being drunk.

The bird became wedged just beneath the number plate when it was struck by the car, which was travelling about 100 kilometres per hour in the Adelaide Hills last week.

The driver was on her way to work when she noticed a large flock of cockatoos near Prospect Hill, but had no idea she had collected a passenger along the way until she arrived at work in Hahndorf.

"She thought that she might have hit one because she felt a bit of a bump," said Casper's Bird Rescue volunteer Wendy Warren, who got the call-out to rescue the bird.

"But she didn't realise it was actually trapped in the car and very much alive until she pulled up at work and saw it sticking out the front of the bonnet.

"I've never seen anything like it," she said.

"It's absolutely amazing.

"To be hit just in the way he did and get out of it without anything serious is a stroke of luck."

Using a crow bar, some thick gloves and a circular saw, Ms Warren and a pair of local helpers eventually cut the cockatoo free, about two hours after the bird was hit.

"He was quite angry about being stuck, as you would be," she said.

"But besides one little scratch and a missing flight feather, he came out of it unscathed.

"We decided to name him Pretzel after the unusual position we found him in, because he was so twisted. When we did manage to finally pull him out, he was pretty much the shape of a pretzel.

"I think he was in a little bit of shock for a few days afterwards."

After the rescue, Pretzel was taken to the vet.

Ms Warren said she feared the worst, and was shocked when the news turned out to be good.

"The vet said that he was fine. I was absolutely certain he would at least have a couple of fractures," she said.

"He's only been put on antibiotics just in case that scratch picked up any debris on the trip back… he's a very lucky, lucky bird."

Pretzel is expected to be released in the next few days.

"He wasn't super interested in his food for the first day but that has changed completely, so he is going through a lot of food very quickly and he's full of energy which is a really, really good sign."

Ms Warren speculated the reason the bird swooped close to the car in the first place was because it might have been intoxicated.

"Sometimes cockatoos and galahs will eat fermenting wheat and grapes on the side of the road and get a little bit drunk so it's possible that he was under the influence and that's why he decided to loop back around towards this giant chunk of metal," she said.

"All those trucks going past with fruit, grapes, wheat — a lot of that will fall off and ferment on the side of the road and become alcoholic.

"[Birds] sit on the side of the road happily eating this fermenting food getting drunk."

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