What do birds do during a hurricane?

Evacuate or stay?

Ever wondered what the birds are doing when the hurricane is bashing the shore? Locals and visitors alike evacuate or shelter the wrath of these storms. Well, it seems that many birds do the same.

Some migrating birds will use their senses to simply detour to navigate around the storm. Tagged shorebirds have been documented flying through hurricanes and even using their prevailing tailwinds for a boost.

Evacuate or stay?

Most species will stay put and seek shelter. Woodpeckers may hide in a hole in a tree, Cardinals, buntings and other songbirds may find a deep spot in a thicket (a thick or dense growth of shrubs, bushes, or small trees) or hide under sheds or the lee (the side or part that is sheltered or turned away from the wind) side of houses.

Unfortunately, sometimes even though the adult birds survive, many nests, eggs, and young birds will be washed away. The birds that fly will get into the hurricane’s spiral and make their way into the eye (the approximately circular region of relatively light winds and fair weather found at the center of a severe tropical cyclone).

How do they know it’s coming? Birds are affected by barometric pressure (describes the weight of the air surrounding the earth – Rises in pressure can be linked to clear weather. Falling pressure can be linked to wet weather or storms. Steady barometric pressure readings indicate that the current conditions will continue) changes like most animals.

Some birds will just literally hang on. Grabbing a branch and toughing it out. Avian mortality does rise during these bad storms but amazingly most will survive to scavenge the aftermath of the hurricane.

When a bird lands, special muscles make their toes automatically tighten around the branch on which they are perched. This holds them in place during high winds or when they sleep. Birds must make an effort to unclench their toes in order to take off. Therefore, during a hurricane, the birds do not necessarily need to hang on tighter – they need to relax!


Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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