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A Guide To Birds Behavior Before A Storm

A Guide To Birds Behavior Before A Storm

Birds are nature’s barometer, and we need to learn to decode the birds’ behavior before a storm means and how we can help pet birds cope.

If you are a little older, you can tell when a storm is coming by watching the crazy behavior of birds.  These creatures go on a feeding frenzy right before the storm arrives.  It is as if they want all the food in the world before seeking shelter and riding out the storm.

Birds are warm-blooded creatures!  They require enough food each day to fuel their metabolic engines.

They are capable of enduring bitter cold or any extreme weather conditions. The key to their survival is abundant food. Many birds migrate because they can’t withstand cold temperatures without enough food.  In winter, there is insufficient food to sustain the birds, and that’s why they migrate to warmer areas in search of food.

The birds in the Northern Hemisphere migrate south because the food sources they rely on are no more during winter.  Many of these migratory birds eat either insects or nectar.

These insects and flowers that provide nectar are killed by freezing temperatures leaving only a few behind that can’t feed the birds.

How Do Birds Act Before A Storm?
A Guide To Birds Behavior Before A ...
A Guide To Birds Behavior Before A Storm

Birds are good at sensing an oncoming storm.   According to a report, warblers in Tennessee left their breeding grounds a few days before the arrival of severe thunderstorms.

Birds have the ability to hear low-frequency sounds called infrasound that precedes a storm’s arrival. Even your pet bird has this same capacity of some degree and can show behavioral changes signs, which predicts an impending severe weather event.

How Do Birds Act Before A Storm

Birds can sense barometric pressure, as reported by some scientists. Experiments carried out revealed that birds change their normal pattern of preening at dawn and immediately start feeding a lot if the barometric pressure indicated a storm was approaching.

What Is Your Pet Birds Behavior When A Storm Is Approaching

Your pet bird is caged and cannot move to a new location to avoid a storm!  You must therefore find a way to help it get through the event.

Some birds may become very aggressive and change their feeding habits as a large storm approaches.  Others may become sensitive to loud noises or become afraid or upset during thunderstorms. If you notice these symptoms, you can help them remain calm even as the weather changes.

One of the biggest issues related to severe weather is power outages, which largely affect your pet bird and yourself.  Loss of air- conditioning, lights, or heat can occur after a serious storm, and your pet birds cannot handle this well.  You will need to develop a plan to keep your house warm and well-lit when the storms approach.

Common Birds Behavior Before A Storm

There are many behavioral changes that birders can notice when the weather is about to change.  Let’s take a look at some of the common bird behavior before a storm.

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Perching On Power Lines

Resting on power lines is an everyday occurrence for many birds.  Many birds lined up for a lengthy period could be a sign that the barometric pressure has dropped.

Low barometric pressure causes the birds to work harder and burn more energy to fly.  That’s why they tend to take a time-out on power lines to rest and conserve strength.

Sudden, Unusual Migration

The golden-winged warblers who flew the coop in Tennessee in the middle of their breeding season.  Researchers analyzed this as a brief escape to more pleasant weather in Florida because they could hear severe storms brewing all the way in the Great Plains.

Seagulls Coming In From the Coast

Sailors have reported all sorts of peculiar bird behaviors linked with weather changes.  One of the most common observations shared is that coastal birds, like seagulls, come ashore before strong weather hits.  This smart survival technique allows these birds to dodge dangerous weather while out on the water.

Spooky Silence

If you have ever stood outside just before a storm, you might have noticed that it’s all quiet with no birds singing or flying around.

Birds tend to stop chirping and singing when they sense dangerous weather coming.  This results in spooky silence that’s enough to make any birder abandon ship and head indoors.

It’s clear that birds have an intrinsic ability to sense the weather, sometimes even better than the meteorological forecasts!

Birds Associated With Storms

Some birds are more visible in their behavioral changes before a storm than others.  We will call them weather birds.  Let’s see the birds behavior that is associated with a storm

  • Birds in flight flying high in the sky usually indicate fair weather
  • They stop flying and take refuge at the coast if a storm is coming.
  • They also fly low to avoid the discomfort of dropping air pressure.
  • Birds can get hushed before a big storm.
  • Their singing depicts fair weather is approaching, and they are happy about it.

Different Birds And Their Behavior Before A Weather Change

  • Hawks.  When they fly high, it means the sky is clear.  When they fly low, they are telling you to prepare for a blow.
  • Geese.  They fly higher in fair weather than in poor weather.
  • Seagulls.  These birds fly inland when a storm is on the way.
  • Fowls.  They roost in the daytime when expecting rain. They could also get more noisy than usual and pick up small stones and pebbles if they are outside.  Roosters unusually clap their wings, and hens rub in the dust and seem uneasy when the rain is approaching.  If it’s raining and chickens are not paying attention to it, it could mean you will have continued rain.
Different Birds And Their Behavior Before A Weather Change
  • Petrels.  They gather under the stern of a ship meaning bad weather is approaching.
  • Crows.  A crow flying alone is a sign of foul weather.  Crows flying in pairs is a sign of fine weather. Crows flying south depict severe winter as coming.  If they fly north, then it means the winter will be light.
  • Owls.  Barred owls calling into the late fall is a signal of a rough winter.


Why do birds act weird before a storm?

It's called pre-storm ritual. Birds know when it's going to storm and they prepare for it. They go into an 'arrested' state of heightened alertness and begin to behave in strange ways, sometimes even moving around and sitting in places that aren't usually used.

It's a preparation for when the weather does change. "The whole thing about it is, the birds have been doing this for years and years," he said. "They do it in the summer, but they do it now because they know the storm is coming.

What do birds do when they sense a storm?

They don't sit and wait for the storm to pass. Rather, they find shelter in trees, shrubs or buildings. They fly out of the way of falling debris, and they take refuge in buildings if they are too close to the path of the storm. They can sense when a storm is coming, and they can sense whether it will be a big one or a small one.

They head for the nearest tree. This is not just any tree, though: it's a species-specific tree that has been selected over millions of years by evolution for its ability to withstand wind, rain and snow. "Birds are smart. They're very aware of what is going on around them," says David Cuthill, an ornithologist at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

He points out that most birds have some kind of feathery warning system—a visual one for some, and an auditory one for others. But, he adds, "if you are a bird that is flying through the forest and you hear a large tree fall down in front of you, you don't have much time to think about what it might mean." It means you need to take off quickly, because that falling tree could be the last tree you ever see.

Birds can also sense changes in the wind. When the wind changes direction, it blows away the smell of predators. Birds can use this information to decide where they should go. Birds have their own language, and they communicate with each other by calling out, singing songs, and using gestures.

What does it mean when birds chirp during a storm?

It is a sign of impending bad weather. There is a theory that this happens because the sound is more easily heard in the air than on the ground due to wind and the noise is picked up by the bird's ear. So, the bird knows there will be a storm and they know to look for shelter. The bird will do this all over the world. It is not just seagulls but other species of birds. This is called kleptoparasitism or kleptochrony.

Are birds more active after rain?

Rain is a very important part of the natural cycle. Rain is what makes the air humid and helps create clouds. The rain also brings in nutrients to plants and soil, which creates a more favorable environment for living creatures to thrive. Rain can also flush out toxins from the air we breathe.

A study by the US Geological Survey shows that birds are more active on days with rainfall. The birds were observed by a team of researchers, and they found that birds were more active on rainy days than on dry days. It is thought that this could be because the rain brings in nutrients into the air and so the birds can feed more easily.


It appears that birds have pressure-sensitive organs in their ears.  They can detect low pressure associated with a coming storm and any other weather changes. Birds always settle down and allow the bad weather to pass to save their lives.

Are you a birder? Watch out for these or more behavior changes before a storm comes or before the weather changes.