Bird-a-thon in the Rain

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Bird-a-thon has never been postponed and cancelled due to weather. Participants are reminded that safety during the Bird-a-thon is of utmost concern to the organization. In addition to this year's new guidelines in light of COVID-19, it is suggested that all participants monitor local weather predictions and modify their birding plans and itineraries, even when close to home, according to rain, wind, or possibly even flooding conditions during the Bird-a-thon.

Contrary to popular belief, birding in the rain can be productive!

While it is generally true that heavy rain or high wind is not terribly conducive to great birding, there are times when such conditions can work to a birder's advantage. For instance:

  • Most nocturnal songbird migrants will be grounded under rainy or even heavily overcast conditions. So even though they may be more difficult to find than under sunny or less windy conditions, many migratory birds can often still be seen. In other words, there are more birds around than you would intuitively expect under the predicted conditions.
  • In addition to songbirds, many waterbird migrants may also be grounded by low overcast and rainy conditions—especially on large inland lakes and ponds, or in flooded fields and wet pastures. Be on the lookout inland for species like shorebirds and Black Terns that are typically more common near the coast.
  • Many songbirds (including warblers and other canopy-feeders) will often be found foraging low or nearly on the ground if high wind or rain is keeping insects low and under cover. Seek sheltered spots and thickets, and often you shall find!
  • Breaks in the weather, even temporary ones, will often incite bursts of song or increased activity for as long as the calm persists. So try to be especially vigilant in a favorable location if you sense that conditions are changing in your favor.
  • If you are fortunate enough to be birding on the coast, be sure to keep a careful eye on the ocean. The easterly winds that are predicted will often deflect migrating seabirds close to shore under these conditions, especially at this time of year. 

Last, but by no means least . . .

Remember that Bird-a-thon is intended to be a fun event. It's purpose is to raise important dollars for conservation, even if it rains. Good birding and good luck!