In violent storms, a bird seeks shelter that suits it. There are a number of birds that do fly with storms. But in a really violent storm they all take shelter. During a storm (force nine), most birds hide. Staying in the air is way too dangerous. Each species seeks the shelter that suits them. Songbirds, for example, look for a safe place in a bush, hedge or tree. Or they stay in the shelter of buildings. Waterfowl often hide in reed collars, seabirds stay at sea.

When bad weather hits, birds generally seek shelter in microhabitats, such as inside a thick hedge, or on the downwind side of a tree—in this case, being petite has its advantages. Hunkering down in these spots can protect them from wind, rain, and even cold (it’s warmer closer to the ground). Birds that nest in cavities, including woodpeckers, bluebirds, and chickadees, can also hide out in their tree holes.

When birds sense changes in air pressure (a sign of brewing bad weather), they start looking around for food, or flock to feeders, so that they have eaten more when the storm arrives.

Birds can be trapped in a hurricane through a phenomenon called entrainment, in the eye of the hurricane. That happens when seabirds get trapped in the eye of the hurricane while it’s over water. While a hurricane is at sea, the birds seek shelter in the eye, and just keep flying inside the eye, until the storm passes over the coast, where they’ll take refuge on land. This phenomenon is why birdwatchers go to areas struck by hurricanes. The storms give them the opportunity to spot species of birds in places where they’re not supposed to be.

A storm during the breeding season destroys nests and young birds drown in flooded nesting sites. Also when migratory birds are caught by a storm during their journey, this also claims victims.

English biologist Lyall Watson has created a biological wind scale for the influence of the wind on animals and plants. According to his wind scale, there are very few birds in the sky at wind force eight. In force nine (storm) only swallows and ducks dare to fly. At wind force ten (heavy storm) all birds remain on the ground.