what happens to birds in a tornado

Do they just kinda get blown about like confetti and accept it? Do they go to ground? Hang on tight? Evacuate? Archived post. New comments cannot be posted and votes cannot be cast.

Why Storms Can Be Dangerous for Birds

Since each storm is unique, it can have different effects on the birds in your area. The climate, geography, resources that are available, and kinds of birds that are in the storm’s path all affect how dangerous a storm is. However, any storm has the potential to be harmful and could result in issues for birds like:

  • destroying live nests and filling in ground-level nests and nesting tunnels
  • Destroying food crops, killing prey, or otherwise disrupting food sources
  • Disturbing habitat by destroying trees, changing shorelines, or flooding valleys
  • affecting bird migration by requiring them to travel at different times or on different routes
  • Directly killing birds through floods, collisions with obstacles, burials, etc.
  • causing landslides, flash floods, wildfires, or other calamities that injure birds more

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Severe storms can also cause secondary disasters that can be fatal for birds. For instance, an oil spill from a hurricane might harm an offshore oil rig and affect seabirds and coastal birds for weeks after the storm has passed. A tornado may cause damage to a power line, sparking a wildfire that spreads miles from the original storm and destroys grassland habitat.

Get Out of the Way

When bad weather is predicted, some bird species will move away from the area. Since birds don’t have to follow roads or other established routes, they can swiftly avoid the worst weather. The severity of a storm can vary greatly even over a short distance, and birds can readily avoid the path of the strongest storms.

Strong winds can make it appear as though birds are clinging to branches or wires for their lives, but they can easily hang on. Their feet will only release if the bird uses its muscles; otherwise, their talons are closed and locked in their resting position. Because of this, birds can cling tightly to a perch even in the strongest winds.

When the weather is bad, birds will naturally seek cover, tucking their bills into their feathers, crouching low, and taking other precautions to reduce their exposure to hazardous situations. This can prevent them from becoming flooded or experiencing excessive wind. It can keep them dry and warm even in inclement weather.

Many birds have evolved numerous physical defenses to stay warm, even in the face of unexpected cold snaps, icy ice storms, and blizzards. These defenses range from downy feather insulation to a layer of fat reserves that reduces heat loss. Some birds grow thicker winter plumage. Some even drop their body’s temperature and metabolic rate in an attempt to remain cozy, safe, and warm.

But even with these adaptations and survival techniques, storms can still be fatal for birds, and bad weather kills a lot of wild birds. Because birds might not be able to re-nest during the same season, storms that affect nesting areas can be particularly destructive. This can lead to dramatically diminished breeding success.

How Birds Survive Harsh Storms

Even with all the potential harm that storms can cause, birds are able to withstand inclement weather. Their numerous adaptations offer them a significant advantage in staying safe during any kind of storm:

Birds have acute senses and can detect even the smallest changes in the environment that could be signs of an impending storm. Birds are able to detect changes in barometric pressure, humidity, temperature, wind direction, and speed. These changes allow the birds to anticipate storms and take preventative measures to stay safe.

In the hours prior to a storm, a lot of birds will feed frantically in order to fuel up for the duration of the storm. When the temperature drops, they might use that nourishing fuel to stay warm or to get away from the area. Birds must have enough energy to last through the storm and resume their regular eating schedule.

When inclement weather arrives, birds will immediately seek cover to avoid being negatively impacted. Since many birds are so small, they can find good protection from strong winds, torrential rain, and sharp snow by simply tucking against a tree’s trunk. To avoid inclement weather, birds will look for concealed cavities or nest beneath branches, brush, or other cover.


What do the birds do when a tornado comes?

Seek Shelter Because many birds are so tiny, even tucking against the trunk of a tree can be good shelter from the worst wind, driving rain, or stinging snow. Birds will seek out hidden cavities or nestle under branches, brush, or other shelter to keep out of bad weather.

Do birds go quiet before a tornado?

He told me that when the weather is about to change for the worse, the birds and animals could feel the impending change and would become quiet to attune themselves to the upcoming atmospheric change. Thus, even without realizing it, you sense a calm (lack of noise) before the storm.

What do wild animals do during a tornado?

They Take Shelter Woodpeckers and chickadees are among some of the birds that will find holes in trees while other animals seek refuge in cavernous rocks or nooks and crannies offered by man-made structures. If they are burrowers, such as moles, badgers, groundhogs, and some squirrels and snakes, they head underground.

How do birds survive severe storms?

Large birds that live out in the open, such as gulls, hawks, pigeons or herons, usually just sit still and wait out a heavy rain. Small songbirds living in trees and shrubs may seek sheltered spots under overhanging branches or leaning trunks. Birds around towns and farms may take shelter in porches or sheds.