Birds during a storm
What do birds do during a severe storm - such as the one that hit the Netherlands on 28 October and caused heavy damage? Most birds take cover and sit out the threatening weather.
Because they are sensitive to air pressure changes, birds are able to feel storms approach. When the barometric pressure drops, birds look for cover. To avoid the danger of remaining in the air, birds of most species hide out during storms featuring winds at force 8 or 9. The birds seek specific kinds of shelter that suit them. Water birds shelter in reeds, while songbirds find refuge in a bush, hedge or tree. Buildings can provide shelter as well. Often, seabirds stay at sea, but they may even be blown towards the shore. Some birds do remain in the air during a storm: the Northern Fulmar and the Leach’s storm petrel (as the name suggests) can appreciate a stiff breeze. These birds can be seen buzzing just above the waves during autumn storms.
An English biologist (Lyall Watson) has designed a biological wind force scale reflecting the influence of wind on animals and plants. According to Watson’s scale, few birds remain in the air at wind force 8. During a storm (wind force 9), only ducks and swallows are the only birds in the air, and in a heavy storm (wind force 10), all birds are grounded.