When you’re walking down the street, and it gets windy out of a sudden, your first instinct is usually to pull your jacket tight against your body and go somewhere to hide. Somewhere is typically a building entrance. When the wind passes, you come out and go about your day. So, where do birds go when it’s windy?
All living organisms have instincts that protect them against harsh weather conditions, and birds are no exception. When the wind gets hard, the birds will usually find a natural cover to take for shelter. It may be a rock or an abandoned tree cavity by some woodpecker.
Let’s see what else they do and how they survive different harsh weather conditions.
Where Do Birds Go When It’s Windy?
Like any other creature, birds have a natural instinct to escape heavy winds. ِAlthough they’re still better adapted for it than us, they’re still in danger of not being able to fly. Plus, their feathers may fluff up and lose their body temperature, which in turn will lower their energy levels.
Usually, birds either hide behind a natural cover or go low, closer to the ground, when there’s heavy wind. Of course, if they find a bird box in your backyard, they’ll likely take it for shelter, but that’s only for birds living in the suburbs and inhabited areas. This is important to consider when figuring out where do birds go when it’s windy.
Author Note: Other things birds do during heavy wind is tightening their feathers around their body and staying completely still. This way, they remain insulated and don’t lose their body temperature.
All that said, different birds have different ways of adaptation. For example, small birds, like wrens and titmice, will stay low, preferring not to fly because they may get knocked away.
Meanwhile, some cavity dwellers, like woodpeckers, will stay inside until the wind passes. Some of them may even hide inside dense foliage if there are no tree cavities available.
Birds that perch will likely hang on to their branches until the storm goes away. Their talons and the way they lock around the branches will help them stay stable without falling. The best thing is, it’s already a reflex from their bodies, so it doesn’t take any extra energy to do.
When Do Birds Go When It’s Raining?
While humans and some animals will rush to hide when they see the first signs of rain, birds aren’t the same. Most of them will continue their regular activity and go about their day without paying much attention to the showers.
In the end, they need to eat frequently, and stopping at the slightest sign of rain isn’t convenient. Plus, their feathers act as a waterproof shield that protects their bodies, so they’re not at any risk.
Birds’ feathers aren’t waterproof on their own, but birds carry out preening regularly, helping the feathers protect the body underneath.
Preening is the act of maintaining and cleaning the feathers to get any dirt and debris out. Not only that, but when birds do it, they interlock their feathers together through a unique pattern, so the water can’t get inside. It’s almost like zippers, but naturally-made ones.
Preening also includes getting oil from the uropygial gland, which lies at the base of the birds’ tails, and brushing their feathers gently with it. As a result, the feathers look shiny and soft, and they repel some of the rainwater.
Author Note: Generally, birds continue living normally through the rain. If it’s accompanied by wind or if it’s a fully-fledged storm, there are some different actions they take. Let’s see what they are.
Where Do Birds Go When There’s a Storm?
Sometimes, storms get too harsh, and small birds aren’t strong enough to stand against them. They’re constantly at risk of flying into a tree branch or hitting against a power line. Not to mention, if the wind is strong enough to blow away some twigs and branches, they may end up hitting against the birds and ruining their balance.
In similar cases, small birds hide inside dense foliage, like trees and bushes. If they can find a leeward area where the wind is a bit calmer, they’ll stay there until the storm passes. Other species will look for shelter in bird boxes that people leave in their backyards. They’ll stay inside until the weather gets good again.
In all cases, the bird will get closer to the ground, hiding behind thick bushes or right inside them. The reason for that is their food. Most birds feed primarily on insects. If they get near to the ground, they’re in the closest position to their food source, so at least the lack of food doesn’t pose a threat.
If you have some bushes or bird boxes in your backyard, you may find a couple of holding birds there during a storm. They’ll mostly be small birds, like bluebirds and so.
Where Do Seabirds Go When There’s a Storm?
All the previous rules only apply to land birds. Let’s not forget there are sea birds, such as fulmars and gulls. Staying in the middle of the water amid a storm is very hard, even for a human, so what do birds do?
Seabirds will take the strong winds as a chance for dynamic soaring. They’ll flatten their wings out, leaving them stable without fluttering them, and let their body weight hold them against the wind. Some of them actually enjoy the strong wind, but only if it’s for a day or two.
When the storm stays for a few days, the seabirds have no place to hide, and they’re unable to get food. It’s not rare to find a couple of gulls dead on the shore after a storm—often because of lack of food.
Others that are willing to survive will return to the shore, staying around inland lakes until the storm passes. But that’s an unusual occurrence. Most seabirds will stay in the water, even if they stay without food for days.
Some birds are already used to flying continuously for days, like albatrosses.
Where Do Birds Go When It’s Snowy?
Strong wind is one thing, and rain may be tolerable, but snow? Now that’s a bit too much for birds. Granted, snow only poses a problem for birds because of the exceptionally low temperature. The snow itself doesn’t bother them much, especially if they’re hardy birds or if their feathers are thick and fluffy.
During snowstorms, birds will hide inside bushes and trees to protect themselves from the wind and the snow. They may also stay still without moving, pulling their feathers tight against their bodies for some insulation against the cold weather.
Birds that usually nest in cavities, like woodpeckers, may gather and stay close together in one close cavity that fits them all. But that’s an unusual activity, and it only occurs in exceptionally low, frosty temperatures. Birds that do this include nuthatches, bluebirds, and chickadees.
Half-hardy birds, like brown thrashers, ruby-crowned kinglets, and bluebirds, will suffer from the cold the most because it’ll affect their feeding pattern. They mostly feed on insects, and these won’t be available in the middle of frosty weather. If the water freezes as well, there’s a high chance some of them will dehydrate or starve to death.
Author Note: During snowstorms, look for thirsty, weak birds behind bushes or at the sides of the roads. You may be able to help a couple of them.
Some birds won’t have any problems with the snowy weather—seed-eating birds, for example. Prey birds also won’t suffer much, including hawks. Their only problem may be finding liquid water to drink when everything is freezing. Other than that, they’ll manage their way out of the storm.
How Do Birds Adapt to Harsh Weather Conditions?
How much protection does hiding behind a bush actually offer? Close to none.
If a human decides to hide behind a very large bush in the middle of a snowstorm, it’ll do little to nothing. That’s because our bodies don’t adapt to the frosty weather. We need clothes, blankets, and heating systems to get over it. Birds aren’t the same; their bodies adapt well to cold weather. Hiding behind the bushes doesn’t protect them much; their bodies do all the work.
How is that?
For starters, in birds’ legs, the veins and arteries are close together—it’s called countercurrent blood exchange. The cool blood in their veins returning to their body gets warmed up by the blood in the arteries. As a result, their feet don’t get cold even if they stand in the snow.
In addition to that, bird’s feathers are perfect for insulation. They’re like natural jackets, right on their bodies!
The feathers closest to the body trap the air, letting the birds maintain their body temperature. Meanwhile, the feathers on top prevent the cold air from reaching in. Some birds even have thicker plumages in winter to protect them from the cold. They then molt it in the fall.
We know what you’re thinking; we have hot cocoa, blankets, and central heating systems. Yet, we’re still cold! How are the birds doing, then?
Well, we’re here to assure you. The birds are perfectly equipped to fight the winter. They have their feathers, their warm legs, and their small bodies that allow them to hide anywhere. No need to worry for the fellow chickadees! We hope you enjoyed this article on where do birds go when it’s windy.
Fly high friends!
Yes there are. Albatross find it difficult to take off from land or stay in the air without a decent amount of wind. When you are on a pelagic trip to see albatross it makes it quite tricky. You want it to be windy so the albatross are active but you also better take those sea sickness pills!
Some birds certainly seem to know when a storm is coming. Scientists are sure how but it is possible that they hear infrasound which we do not and can hear it coming.
That would be species of penguin on the Antarctic. Emperor Penguins keep their eggs on top of their feet so they don’t freeze.