Weather Proverbs and Prognostics: Birds

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Backyard Bird

I was sitting on my deck watching the birds feed and snapped this photo.

Linda L'Esperance

Did you know that bird behavior can help us predict the weather?  Closely observe nature and your feathered friends—and you might be surprised what you learn!

Look up one of these days.  Birds flying high in the sky usually indicate fair weather. As the adage goes …

  • Hawks flying high means a clear sky. When they fly low, prepare for a blow.

Birds tend to stop flying and take refuge at the coast if a storm is coming. They'll also fly low to avoid the discomfort of the falling air pressure.

  • When seagulls fly inland, expect a storm.

  • When fowls roost in daytime, expect rain.

  • Petrels gathering under the stern of a ship indicates bad weather.

Birds tend to get very quiet before a big storm. If you've ever been walking in the woods before a storm, the natural world is eerily silent! Birds also sing if the weather is improving.

  • Birds singing in the rain indicates fair weather approaching.

Here are more bird proverbs and prognostics. Enjoy!

  • If crows fly in pairs, expect fine weather; a crow flying alone is a sign of foul weather.

  • The whiteness of a goose's breastbone indicates the kind of winter: A red of dark-spotted bone means a cold and stormy winter; few or light-colored spots mean a mild winter.

  • Partridges drumming in the fall means a mild and open winter.

  • When domestic geese walk east and fly west, expect cold weather.

  • If birds in the autumn grow tame, the winter will be too cold for game.

  • When the rooster goes crowing to bed, he will rise with watery head.

  • When the swallow's nest is high, the summer is very dry. When the swallow buildeth low, you can safely reap and sow.

We humans can learn so much from birds—and all animal behavior.

Do any of these sayings ring true? Please share your own observations!


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I live in Plymouth Wi. I've

I live in Plymouth Wi. I've noticed lately and so have my friends that the birds seem to have a feeding frenzy lately. someone said that means a bad winter to come. can you shed any light on why the birds are doing this.

Margaret Steinke

Plymouth, WI

Been a long time since I thought of Plymouth. Would go through there on the way to Elkhart Lake. Sister lives in Campbellsport. This just gave me a touch of home for today. Thank you much.

A bird proverb in a humorous

A bird proverb in a humorous book on sailing said;
'Bird dung in beer, seagull is near.'

An evening gray and a morning

An evening gray and a morning red
Will send the shepherd wet to bed.
Evening red and morning gray,
Two sure signs of one fine day.

"Weather folklore and Weather signs" 1903

I have a book in my library

I have a book in my library published by the U.S. department of agriculture in 1903 entitled "Weather Folklore and Local Weather signs" a fun old book and sayings that I'm sure have been forgotten
"If the November goose bone be thick,
So will the weather be;
If November goose bone be thin,
So will the winter weather be.

stuff like that

Very interesting! Thanks for

Very interesting! Thanks for sharing! Going to keep my eye out for a copy on Ebay. Wish a publisher would re-print or offer a Kindle edition!

I heard that the BLACK &

I heard that the BLACK & YELLOW BILLED CUCKOOS are called RAINCROWS in some areas while LOONS are called RAIN GEESE

When you here a screech owl

When you here a screech owl in late summer it will be 6 weeks to cold weather!

cows lying down in a field

cows lying down in a field during the for rain

Red skys at night a sailors

Red skys at night a sailors delight. Red skys in morning sailors take warning.

When the dove coos in the

When the dove coos in the evening right before dusk, it means rain for the next day. It is very true, it always rains here in Kentucky whenever I hear the 'Rain Dove' coo in the evening. My dad always told me to listen for the Rain Dove to sing in the evening and he was right.

Mourning dove. When it coos

Mourning dove. When it coos twice short and three long it will rain.

I just saw 2 low flying

I just saw 2 low flying hawks..beautiful, but we just recieved a "dusting" of snow, does this mean more is to come soon and I mean ALOT more???