For weeks, summer thunderstorms have been regularly marching across Georgia wreaking havoc wherever they go.  They characteristically drop a flood of rain in a matter of a few minutes and bring winds reaching speeds of 40-60 mph or more. When they make their unscheduled appearances, our backyard bird residents simply disappear.

       Eventually each storm rumbles on, the sun’s bright rays pierce through the dark clouds, and our feathered neighbors resume their normal activities. Whenever this happens, we cannot help but wonder where backyard birds go to escape the ravages of a storm.

       In the case of birds that nest and roost in cavities (e.g. downy and hairy woodpeckers, and brown-headed nuthatches and Carolina chickadees), with the approach of a strong storm they retreat to natural cavities, as well as nesting and roosting boxes.

        Perching birds such as chipping sparrows, finches, American robins, cardinals, thrashers and the like, ride out storms perched on the branches of trees and shrubs that feature thick foliage. Red cedars provide great places to escape storms.  Other trees and shrubs such as oaks, camellias also fit the bill. Here birds congregate on the leeward side (side away from the wind) of the trunk. Should the wind change direction, the birds simply switch to the side offering the most protection.  Birds using such cover often position themselves as close to the trunk as possible.  They also prefer to perch at a spot beneath a branch featuring an umbrella-like canopy of leaves.  In addition, perching birds also like thick shrubs growing near a fence or building.

       One of the traits that enables bird to remain perched throughout even the longest-lasting storms is their feet automatically latch onto a branch when they land.  In other words, with all that is going on during a storm, they do not have to remember to hold on tight.

       If your property lacks the type of cover described here, you should make rectifying this situation a priority.

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