Birds and Weather Prediction | The Old Farmer's Almanac

How Birds Predict Weather

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

Photo Credit
Linda L'Esperance

Weather Proverbs About Birds

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

One of these days, take a moment to look up. 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 a sign 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 fowl 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 or dark-spotted bone means a cold and stormy winter; few or light-colored spots mean a mild winter.
  • In the fall, drumming partridges mean 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 a 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!

About The Author

Tom Warren

Tom Warren is a lifelong bird enthusiast. Tom is also committed to protecting birds and their habitat as a Trustee for both Massachusetts and New Hampshire Audubon, and the Harris Nature Center. Read More from Tom Warren

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