Where do birds go during a hurricane? Avians have several survival strategies to keep themselves safe when a storm hits. Some species fly out of the stormy regions and into a safe place before the hurricane hits, while others seek nearby shelter or fly into or through the storm.
Understanding how birds behave during a storm will give homeowners and bird watchers an idea of what to do to increase wild birds’ chances of survival. We covered all the important topics for you to read.
Table of Contents
Where Do Birds Go During a Hurricane?
Birds, especially non-migratory ones, go to forests and wood areas where the direction of the wind is blowing.
- Buntings, Cardinals, and other songbirds will look for thick bushes and shrubs near large tree trunks. This is an ideal place where birds can keep dry and have protection against strong winds, even during a tornado.
- Woodpeckers, House Wrens, Bluebirds, and other cavity-nesting birds will find tree holes and nesting boxes where they crouch together and share heat. Those with no choice will take refuge in the nearest thing they find for cover.
You’ll find backyard birds taking shelter under the sheds or on the leeward side of your home.
- Seabirds near the coast with no place to take cover during a storm surge get flooded out of marshes. Plovers, Terns, and Black Skimmers with nests on barrier islands and beaches are defenseless against hurricanes, especially during midsummer when their younglings are too weak to fly away.
Do Birds Evacuate Before a Hurricane?
Yes. You will often see flocks of birds before a storm, moving away from the area where it is about to hit. This is because they can recognize the change in barometric pressure and hear infrasound, some common indicators of an incoming storm. Birds can also determine the intensity of the hurricane.
Note: Before flying out, birds feed and fuel up in a rush. This will give them enough energy to survive the storm’s duration where they cannot forage.
But not all birds act before a storm. This could either be because they are used to braving the storm, so they are not worried at its onset, or they have eggs or fledglings they can never leave behind.
Migratory birds will either take a detour, migrate sooner, or delay their departure. This will depend on the season, the temperature, and the barometric pressure.
What Do Birds Do in Hurricanes?
Huge birds, like eagles fly into storms. They expand their wings and use the rising current to gain altitude and escape the raging hurricane. Their powerful muscles and flying technique allow them to stay above the storm.
In other cases, large migratory birds in the eye of a hurricane are spotted. How do they end up there? Migrating birds are sometimes caught in a hurricane mid-flight and can get trapped in the outer winds.
When this happens, they will fly downwind until they reach the calm center of the storm. Once they reach the shore, they will land, find shelter from the outer winds, and wait until the hurricane advances from the area.
Birds in hurricane eye, such as Sooty Terns, Tropicbirds, Frigate-birds, and Shearwaters, washing up on the shore is a common sight. They use the same technique as migrating birds, but they can get trapped in the eye and thrown miles off their course. Birdwatchers always keep an eye out for them after a storm.
Oceanic birds, such as Magnificent Frigate Birds and Pelicans, can easily adapt to massive hurricanes and storms. They are strong, smart, and capable of finding their way home through unknown terrains. However, birds that cannot find fresh water and food perish before they figure out the way.
Ways to Help Birds After a Storm
Many birds survive hurricanes on their own with no help from humans, thanks to the abundant resources available in their surroundings. But after riding out the storm comes another challenge. Hurricanes can destroy habitats and food sources which can take years to recover.
If you are a birder or a homeowner who wants to extend a helping hand to birds after facing a storm, you can give them help by doing the following:
- Place bird feeders back in their places. Fill them with quality seeds, suet cakes, or nectars, depending on the wild bird species in your area.
- Clean the birdbath or put out a clean container with fresh water.
- Continue to fill up the feeders and bird bath for several weeks after the storm.
- Once it is safe to go out, check your area for fallen nests or injured birds. Contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator and ask for help.
- There are local wildlife rehabilitation volunteer scouting areas to see the wild bird situation. You can donate or offer help.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where do squirrels go during a hurricane?
Squirrels stay together in their nests in a hurricane. They will climb higher branches in case water levels rise and shield themselves against the rain and wind using their tails. Their claws can hold onto thick branches and keep them in place.
You will also find squirrels hiding inside hollowed trees or underground burrows.
How to tell when a storm is coming?
Other than tuning to weather channels or checking a weather app, you will notice a thunderstorm coming when you look outside.
- Dark sky
- Large cumulus clouds
- Lower temperature than usual
- Declining atmospheric pressure
- When the wind blows in a different direction
On the other hand, birds have keen senses and are highly aware of the tiniest change in the environment. This includes changes in:
- Wind speed
- Wind direction
- Barometric pressure
That is why birds are often referred to as nature’s barometer.
How do baby birds survive storms?
Fledglings lack the coping mechanisms adult birds have, which makes it challenging for them to survive in a windstorm. They still rely on their parents for food and to keep them dry when it’s raining.
But baby birds have an innate survival instinct to crowd together and roost when the temperature drops. This allows them to share body heat, reserve their energy, and lessen heat losses.
Now that you know the answer to “Where do birds go during a hurricane?” you know where to look for wild birds in your area after a storm. Besides, you can help them weather through the storm using some tips we shared. Do you have anything to add to our list?
If you know anyone who’d love to read the information in this article, share this with them. Spread the word to those who want to give their feathered neighbors a higher chance of surviving a hurricane.
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