Where do birds go in a hurricane?
November 6, 2008 8:48 AM   Subscribe

Where do city birds go when a hurricane hits?

Where do common resident birds, like pigeons, go when a hurricane hits a city?

I have found some articles discussing destruction of habitat and how that affects migratory birds. However, I don't know what happens to birds like sparrows and pigeons.

Hurricane Ike hit Houston recently and I noticed birds were gone for a day or two, and then they suddenly seemed to come back in the same numbers as before.

Do they fly away before the hurricane? Are their nests really well constructed? Do they claw in and hold on?
posted by abdulf to Pets & Animals (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Lots of them stay around. Here's a picture of a bird we found on the ground after the hurricane hit. The poor little guy was too windblown and exhausted to even try to hop away. It just sat there looking shell shocked.
posted by chrisamiller at 9:44 AM on November 6, 2008

My apartment is at treetop level, and during nasty storms, yes, I've seen pigeons hunker down, "claw in and hold on".
posted by JaredSeth at 10:17 AM on November 6, 2008

Monk Parrots' nests often get blown down, especially if they construct them in Phoenix ("Date") palms.

But those contructed in electrical structures and light towers seem to have survived Gustav and Ike alright, minus a hunk of twigs coming off here and there. The birds can rebuild a whole nest in a matter of weeks.

we at UNO [Univ of New Orleans] have numbers showing smaller colony sizes (by nests and by birds) after katrina in areas inundated with water from the levee breaches. I imagine the birds lost the nests in palms that died from floodwaters. Whether that means they died or just have moved to another part of town, for at least three years, we don't know.

But talking to other experts, part of your answer is "to heaven."
posted by eustatic at 12:20 PM on November 6, 2008

Here is a interesting story from hurricane charlie. yes birds will "hunker" down as the wind picks up. If the eye of the storm passes over their location they will take flight & be carried along with the storm in the "eye". This was witnessed by several people I know during Charlie. There was thousands of birds in charlies eye by the time it made it to Orlando. They get "trapped" in the eye. When the storm disperses they that have survived may head back "home". True story
posted by patnok at 3:32 PM on November 6, 2008

They hide under the eaves of houses, the pigeons, and after it passes they come back out and they start over doing whatever pigeons do. You'd be surprised how many hiding places there are in places that have been hit by hurricanes for centuries, especially if you can fly and have a memory. They have brains the size of my knuckle, but they ain't stupid.

That said, I've never been around to see what they do during a hurricane, I'm more of a chicken than them and I fly away. But I've seen what they do when there's a storm brewing. They find a place to hide under when the clouds roll in. What I saw: they crawl in the attic and make noise all night long, or they die. They scramble to stay alive, just like the rest of us do. The ones that don't you find every so often dead in a shadowed corner on the sidewalk about four days later, pawed at by an equally dead cat.
posted by gordie at 11:40 PM on November 6, 2008

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