Why Does Rain Make It Harder for Birds to Fly?
It’s not impossible for birds to fly in the rain, they usually choose not to as rain affects the flight of most birds. They can fly in the rain but not very well. You may see birds fly short distances in poor weather to find something to eat, but most of them prefer to stay put.
However, it’s not the rain itself that makes flying difficult. Instead, birds are affected by the drop in air pressure that comes with most rainstorms. When pressure drops, the air is less dense. There are fewer molecules, which makes it harder for birds to fly.
Moving through the sky in areas of low air pressure takes a lot of energy. That’s why you’ll see more birds sitting on tree branches or even power lines during a storm.
If rain continues for some time, though, birds will have to brave the storm. Luckily, their feathers are waterproof. Most water will roll off of their feathers, protecting the skin beneath. Many birds can also produce oil that they can spread over their feathers to further protect themselves from the rain.
Despite this protection, most birds don’t like rain. In fact, a 2010 study found that it causes them a lot of stress. A team of researchers studied birds living in a Costa Rican rainforest. Through blood samples, they found that the birds had higher levels of a stress hormone on rainy days.
Other birds don’t seem to mind rain at all, though. Ducks, for example, are known to stay out in the rain and even play in puddles. That’s how the saying “Lovely weather for the ducks” came to describe a rainy day. Birds have also been seen using a downpour as a chance to bathe themselves. For those that live in hot, dry climates, rain also seems to be a welcome chance to cool off.