When you picture a perfect bird-watching day, you probably think of clear skies and a bright sunny day.
You can go bird watching in the rain. If you’re new to it, you might be surprised to know that most birdwatchers will encourage you to go bird-watching in the rain. It’ll be a very pleasant experience. You can observe birds react to the rain and how they act differently according to the weather.
They sit still during the rain on trees, making it much easier to spot them. Sometimes you can also spot migrating birds in the trees, as they are forced to come down because of the rain. There are also birds that like to bathe in the rain. So there’s plenty to keep you entertained.
Birds, like any other animal, behave differently during the rain. Some try to hide from it, others try to protect themselves with their feathers and some even start to feed on the freshly available worms on wet grass.
Birds have feathers that have a sort of waterproof covering oil, which does allow them to fly in the rain. However, if it gets too heavy, (because of the water) they won’t be able to fly. So most birds prefer to stay in the shade and sit still in the rain. This makes them much easier to spot and you can spend hours just observing what they do.
A lot of birds can be seen preening themselves in the rain. This means that they try to protect their feathers by rubbing the waterproof oil that is produced from a gland at the base of their tail. They try to spread that oil all over their outer feathers.
Other birds adopt a weird position tucking their heads in and their bill towards the direction of the rain. They do this to keep their warm down weather protected. They also fluff up their feathers so that they can keep warm.
The rain also makes for a good time to feed these birds. The wet grass makes it easier to catch worms and eat them. So you’ll even find certain birds on the ground looking for food. You might even find a few birds that will fly during the rain as well. It’s all very interesting.
But perhaps the most interesting part of bird watching in the rain is getting to spot migratory birds. Rainy weather can bring low-pressure systems into the air. This means the air above becomes less dense while under low pressure.
So birds have a hard time flying. Thus, even the migratory birds which do not usually come down to sit on the trees, can come down and wait for the rain to pass. In very extreme cases, they can also be forced to stop their migration.
This phenomenon is called fallout. This happens when migrating birds cannot reach their destination because of bad weather, and so they take to the ground and rest. You can find large groups in a single area during a fallout.
This does not happen often and is actually really bad for the birds and the ecosystem. All the birds become extremely stressed out as they cannot continue their migration until the weather changes. The sudden increase of birds on the ground also makes it harder for the ecosystem which can’t always keep up with such a large number of birds.
But a fallout allows for a rare chance for birdwatchers to see these birds up close. So a lot of birdwatchers try to pick places where the rain is the heaviest, in order to catch a glimpse of a fallout.
Hurricanes And Storms
Even hurricanes can cause rare non-migratory birds onto the land. You might often see seabirds onshore during really bad weather.
Some birds even become entrained by the storm and they move within the storm itself. Most storms don’t kill birds directly but they tend to affect low-lying bird habitats.
The Time Of The Day
Another factor to keep in mind during rainy weather is the time of the day. A rainy morning bird-watching experience will be quite different from one in the dark.
The low vision of a moist fog at night, for example, can entice a migrating bird closer to the ground. During the day, soaring, short-distance birds like raptors are more active. Longer-distance migrating land birds, such as thrushes and sparrows, however, tend to start their journey in the dark.
Okay, now that you know the perks of bird watching in the rain, how do you prepare for it? It is not always pleasant in the rain, and not everyone loves it. If you are not careful you can also catch a cold. So you should plan ahead.
The first step is to dress for the weather. Make sure everything is waterproof, starting from your clothes to shoes to even your equipment. Invest in a good raincoat. The outer layer should be coated with Durable Water, and even if you have a great raincoat, always have extra clothes in the car in case of an emergency.
Wear warm clothes and try to layer up. It will probably be cold. Your outer layer should keep you dry while your inner layers should keep you warm. You can even wear thermal underwear.
The great thing about layers is you can get rid of them if it stops raining. You can also bring heat packets if it gets too cold. Wear a baseball cap or something to protect your head. This will also stop rain from getting in your eyes. Try to sit in a shaded area if you can, once you get there. If your head is dry, you’ll have fewer chances of catching a cold.
Wearing rubber boots is also a great idea. You should keep an extra pair in your car, even if it is sunny. There can be swamps or wet areas from previous showers. Having an umbrella is not a bad idea either.
Remember to protect anything you are carrying as well. Bring a waterproof bag to store your phone and tech equipment. If you take pictures, then be careful that water does not get inside your camera. It’s not really the best idea to take pictures on a rainy day. Chances are you won’t get good shots anyway. With just a little planning, you will have a great day.
You get to see many rare sights that you won’t normally get to see on dry days.