Saturday, October 27, 2012

Where Do Birds Go During a Storm?

I live on the east coast and we are awaiting the arrival of hurricane Sandy.  They are predicting winds of 60+ miles per hour and up to 10 inches of rain in some areas.  The mountainous areas of West Virginia and Maryland may get up to 50 inches of snow! 
Have you ever wondered where the birds go when there is a storm?  Birds can sense any changes in the barometric pressure.  A sharp drop alerts them that a big storm is coming.  Some birds will leave the area and get out of the storm’s path.  Shorebirds move inland to seek shelter.  Birds who are cavity nesters will seek protection in a whole of a tree or in a bird house.  Other birds seek shelter on a sturdy limb of a dense bush or evergreen tree.  Birds have a “perching reflex” that prevents them from being blown away.  When a bird perches, it bends its leg which causes the tendons of the lower leg to automatically flex the foot around the branch and lock it in place.  This holds them in place when they are sleeping or when there are high winds.

Some birds get caught in the eye of a hurricane and they cannot get out until the storm loses its strength and they can escape.  These birds become displaced and they are known as “Hurricane Birds.”  For all you birdwatchers, this is a great opportunity to see birds that you normally would not see. 

Hurricanes also can affect a bird’s food supply.  The high winds can strip the fruits and berries from trees and shrubs.  How can you help?  Feed your back yard birds with high protein foods such as suet, sunflower seeds and peanuts.

Be safe and happy backyard birding!

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