How Birds Predict Weather

Weather Proverbs About Birds

July 2, 2021
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 by what you learn!

Look up one of these days.  Watch birds in flight. 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.
  • Geese fly higher in fair weather than in foul.

Air pressure does indeed affect birds. For example, swallows have sensitive ears; when the barometric pressure drops, they fly as close to the ground as possible, where air density is greatest. Generally, low-flying birds are signs of rain; high flyers indicate fair weather.

Migrating birds can fly more easily in dense, high pressure conditions. Therefore, geese may fly high when a high pressure system moves to the area. High pressure systems are associated with fair weather.

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! Enjoy more about animals and weather folklore!


Reader Comments

Leave a Comment

Why the birds act happy and sing as a Storm rolls in

Birds and other living creatures are probably confused about the weather and don't know how to act. Because of end time weather.

Birds and Weather

I read that Black Billed and Yellow Billed Cuckoos were called rain Crows because their calling was suppost to mean it will Rain and LOONS WERE CALLED RAIN GOOSE BECUASE IT WAS THOUGHT THEIR CALLING MEANT RAIN and i once heard Western Meadowlark sing in the Rain(Holy Gene Kelly Batman)and i have seen Snowbirds(Oregon Juncos)appear when there is snow coming

Robins in Fall

My husband and I observed what appeared to be thousands of robins on our southern Maryland property and on our neighbors' properties as well. The robins were on nearby paved streets, on the ground and in the grass, on power lines, and in all of the trees -- everywhere we looked, literally everywhere -- like they were gathering. It was autumn and overcast, but it didn't rain. The silence was almost deafening. Reminded us of Alfreda Hitchcock's "The Birds." We got in our car, went to the store, and returned home. They didn't scatter from starting the engine and moving the car, and they were still there 20 to 30 minutes later when we returned. This happened a second time a few years later, only there were not nearly as many birds. We've lived here for more than 20 years, in this area for better than 65 years, and we've never seen anything like this. What could this have been, and just how unusual is this?


I own a pest & bird control company in Phoenix - - and we do a ton of pigeon proofing. Pigeons are really tough and about the only time I've seen a change in their behavior as far as the weather does is when we have lightening. They'll do their normal thing during rain, wind and the 100+ degree heat but will be a bit harder to find when the monsoons hit.

ok I was outside one day and

ok I was outside one day and i saw flocks of ducks i mean their was about 100 ducks or more in the sky going one direction and told my dad to look up and he said that spring is on its way.
Is it true?

It’s called migration

Yes, your Dad was right. The birds were migrating. They go north between winter and spring and south between summer and fall.

roufus hummingbird s

We still have two birds here in southeast Alaska, its been around freezing at night. I keep my two feeders fresh, is it normal for them to still be here? They are beautiful, red necks and fly to me when I am on my porch. I have great pics of them, I named them Ringo & Cecil.

Beautiful birds!  Normally,

The Editors's picture

Beautiful birds!  Normally, Rufous Hummingbirds are in Alaska in the summer and then start migrating south. This is indeed very late.

The Golden Crown Sparrow says We're In for a Very Wet Winter

I've been keeping track of these birds for the last thirty years or so; they pass through the coastal woods in North Central California every spring and fall, and have been here about 3 and a half weeks as of this writing (I spend a great deal of time outdoors and am always in touch with seasonal phenomena). Their default call is a three note descending call, frequently characterized as "Oh, dear me". This is subject to seasonal variation, particularly in the fall. Some years they tend to drop the third note most of the time and I've noticed drier winters tend to follow. Conversely (and even more pronounced), they tend to add a note before a particularly rainy winter. Thus "Oh dear me" becomes "Peedle Wee Wee". The last time this happened, my next door neighbors in West Marin were forced to drive 16 foot deep pilings under their 90 year old creekside home. The sparrows are plentiful this season here in Mendocino County where I live now, and every last one is "peedle wee weeing" to beat the band. It's only October 22nd and we've already had five inches of rain here; I expect thirty more, thanks to the Peedle Wee Wee for a heads up! Mistake not my jocular tone for frivolity; I keep up with my feathered friends.

What birds say...

The Editors's picture

Hi, Christopher, Thank you for your thoughtful comments here. Because you are so “tuned in” to bird calls, we’re wondering: Have you seen/tried the bird-call match game in the 2017 Almanac?? It’s on page 243. Let us know how you do!



I have heard Western Meadowlarks using more then one call this must mean at least attracting a mate and Territory and i have read that Male Killdeer will fly over his chosen territory while giving the Killdeer call and Meadowlarks like a high clear vantage point to sing from

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!

republishing book

i am a publisher, i would be interested in republishing it!

Reprint available

I checked my favorite book site and this book is available as a reprint and there is also an original copy.
Search for abebooks

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???