Why don’t birds blow away?

A January Arctic Blast hit us this week.  Wind gusts up to  50 miles an hour in the evening.  The wind sounded like an airplane taking off in the yard.  How do birds hang on in the wind at night?  Why don’t they blow away?

Finding Shelter

This photo shows an owl perched at a tree bran...

Birds shelter themselves against predators, wind and weather at night.  You can imagine they don’t want to be caught sleeping by a hungry night owl.  Birds shelter in the same kinds of places they spend their days.  Those that make their nests in cavities tend to shelter in tree holes or whatever enclosed space they  find — even in a small space under the eaves of  a house.  Some find shelter in dense shrubs.  Evergreens are favored because of their density.  Still others find shelter in thick grasses.  Those that live on or near water, seek shelter nearby.  Some are solitary while others roost in groups to help stay warm.

Taking Cat Naps
Did you know that birds sleep with only half their brain while the other half remains alert to danger?  And, they can control how much of their brain is asleep by how wide they open or close their eyes.  It’s true!  I had an old cat that slept sort of like that, come to think of it.

Hanging On Tight
Birds’ muscle tone remains largely un-relaxed during sleep.  When they perch, their feet automatically clench around the branch.  So they can’t really be blown off during a wind storm or even drop out of a tree at night when asleep.  And consider birds like flamingos that sleep on one leg that doesn’t relax and cause the bird to fall.

Sleeping Caribbean Flamingo at the Metro Toron...

Sleeping Caribbean Flamingo at the Metro Toronto Zoo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It sounds so simple.  It all seems to work out okay for the birds.  They still come to my feeders and bird bath in the morning after every windy night.

It’s like I always say, “The birds know what to do.”

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6 Responses to Why don’t birds blow away?

  1. I’ve often wondered what they do and where they go on stormy nights. They are well equipped!

  2. Deb Platt says:

    Years ago I read that dolphins also sleep with half their brain. They couldn’t go completely asleep or they would drown. And since they live in pods, their sleeping is coordinated with their fellow pod members.. They end up swimming in a circle, following one another (kind of like a wagon train). The eye that’s asleep face toward the interior of the circle, while the eye that’s awake faces outward so they can see predators or enemies (like sharks) approaching.

    • Yeah, Deb. I do something like this on the commuter train at 6 in the morning. One eye closed to snooze while keeping one open to make sure no “sharks” make off with my brief case.

      Thanks for the info about dolphins. Very interesting. They are amazing creatures.

  3. Oliver says:

    The half-brained/half-eyed sleeping is fascinating!

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