Feb 8, 2016 | Featured in: Watching Backyard Birds, February 2016

Bird Meteorologists

Does a busy bird feeder mean that a bad weather is coming?
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In the fall, when my Dad spotted the first junco (snowbird) on our farm, he told us all that it would be six weeks until the first trackable snow. He marked the date on the calendar. If the snow fell near the predicted date, Dad would marvel aloud at what an amazing prophet a snowbird was. If the date wasn’t close, the failed feathered seer was not mentioned.

Sometimes the juncos were right. Sometimes the weatherman on TV is right. Here are some sayings about avian meteorologists:

  • Birds fly lower before a storm.
  • A busy bird feeder means bad weather is coming.
  • Birds singing in the rain means the rain will soon stop.
  • Birds eat more just before a storm.
  • When birds stop singing and the trees start swinging, a storm is on its way.
  • When birds eat a lot and then disappear, a terrible storm is very near.
  • If a crow hollers in the morning, expect rain by night.
  • If crows fly in pairs, expect fine weather. A crow flying alone is a sign of foul weather.
  • When the grouse drum at night, there will be a deep fall of snow.
  • Hawks flying high means a clear sky; when they fly low, prepare for a blow.
  • Cranes aloft, the day is soft; swallows soar, good weather more.
  • A robin singing at dawn while facing west means a change in weather by noon.
  • If the robin sings loudly from the topmost of trees, expect a storm.
  • When woodpeckers peck low on the trees, expect warm weather.
  • The loon calls loudest before the storm.

About Al Batt

Al Batt is a writer, speaker, storyteller, and humorist. His first book is a collection of his stories, A Life Gone to the Birds, published by BWD Press. Order this book from our nature shop »

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  • I’ve been enjoying goldfinches eating coneflower/ echinacea seeds in my new pollinator garden! I will leave the plants out all winter for them if the seeds keep that long? Or should I deadhead and put them in a dry area? Im in CT and thought they migrated, but didn’t know they put in winter coats! What do they eat in winter without bird feeders?
    by Anne Sheffield, Sat, 04 Sep 2021
  • Hi Gary, I will pass your question along to Birdsquatch next time I see him. He knows infinitely more about nocturnal wildlife than I do. Where do you live? That's pretty important in figuring out the answer. But the thief could be raccoons, deer, or flying squirrels. Do you live in the woods? Are there trees near your feeder, or must the culprit climb a shepherd's hook or pole? Dawn Hewitt, Watching Backyard Birds
    by Dawn Hewitt, Mon, 30 Aug 2021
  • This breaks my heart. God strengthen your spirit and comfort your heart.I am fortunate to be taking a vacation next month, hopefully before sky high inflation hits and I can no longer afford it.
    by Ironweeds, Fri, 27 Aug 2021
  • What is emptying my jelly feeder overnight.
    by Gary Vandervest, Wed, 25 Aug 2021
  • Thank you, Dawn. I'm close enough to Ohio (Ann Arbor, Michigan) that I went ahead and took my tubes down and scoured clean all my bird baths. I won't put up my tubes this winter, just my trays and safflower only just to keep the bullies away for a while.
    by Pat Moore, Mon, 09 Aug 2021