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 had a pair nesting for the first time this year at our farmstead in South Dakota. Boxes put out for Bluebirds which didn't come, but these were a very pleasant consolation.
    by fluffypeanutcat, Tue, 25 Sep 2018
  • This is a good point. While cleaning mine, I kinda got the impression the cheep cheeps were waiting on me since they started chirping as soon as I brought it outside again. I swear they are so smart. Within five minutes of filling the feeder up, they are there to feast.cheers Cheep cheeps!
    by Kimber timbers, Fri, 20 Jul 2018
  • Hahaha, I love the ending remark "that area will have already been well -fertilized!"I've noticed that there are more cheep cheeps right after I clean the bird feeder compared to how many there are right before it was cleaned...so cheep cheeps do like and appreciate a well maintained feeder and they are worth the effort. : )
    by Kimber timbers, Fri, 20 Jul 2018
  • The storm saying seems true so far. We had as party at our bird feeder right before our last storm... 6 at once but different cheeps cheeps would come and go so there were more than 6 for sure..and squirrels eating with the birds
    by Kimber timbers, Fri, 13 Jul 2018
  • I know and do clean my feeders both for seed and for hummingbird liquid. I have a vase full of different size brushes that are only for this purpose. I have friends however who NEVER clean their feeders or bird baths, and it’s gross! I am ringing this article and will have to give out to the few offenders I know. I can’t imagine looking at such mess and not cleaning it, but not everyone thinks resale. Part of responsible bird watching/loving is to make the time and take the effort to do this.
    by Carol, Tue, 10 Jul 2018