How Birds Predict Weather

Primary Image

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

Photo Credit
Linda L'Esperance

Weather Proverbs About Birds


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!

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Melinda Scott (not verified)

1 year 7 months ago

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

Alpha Skua (not verified)

1 year 7 months ago

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

Evelyn Payton (not verified)

2 years 1 month ago

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?

John (not verified)

3 years 5 months ago

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.

Taylor (not verified)

3 years 8 months ago

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?