The southeastern United States and the West Indies have suffered the fury of the Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in the past few weeks. We soon know the impact on humans and buildings after the storms pass. But what is the effect on birds? How do birds weather the ferocity of a hurricane?
Our understanding of the behavior of birds during a hurricane is necessarily incomplete. No ornithologist is going to risk life and limb to try to make observations in the torrential wind and strong winds of a Type V hurricane!
Let’s first consider land birds. A land bird caught up in the winds of a hurricane is very likely to perish. Such a bird certainly cannot buck the wind to find safety. As a storm builds, land birds seek out shelter. Perhaps a tree cavity, a small hole below a tree root. A dense thicket, a stout tree. These microhabitats provide effect refuges from the wind and rain.