Where Do Birds Go When It Rains?

So where do birds go when it rains?

And what they do during harsh weather?

We know the deal, it’s raining heavily which means that everyone is in a hurry to get inside. 

We’re usually in such a rush to get out of the storm, that we don’t ask ourselves one big question. When it rains, where do all the birds go?

In fact, it’s unlikely to see many birds at all when it rains. Yet, as soon as the sun comes out the chirping returns along with our favorite feathered creatures.

Where Do Birds Go When It Rains?

So, why do birds disappear when it’s raining and where do they go? I’m going to explore the answer to these questions so read on to find out. 


The larger sized seabirds can handle a little bit of rain. In fact, they don’t like to let a storm deter them from going about their day.

Smaller seabirds, on the other hand, aren’t a fan of stormy weather. Their size makes it difficult for them to fly against the storm and they run the risk of being overpowered by it.

They seek shelter on land and like to perch in some sort of shelter, such as trees until the storm has passed.

Seabirds preen glands produce oil which keeps their feathers watertight from the elements. So, when you see a seabird sheltering, it’s from the unpredictability of the storm rather than from the rain itself. 

Land Birds

If it’s only light rain outside then both humans and birds have a tendency to get on with it.

We don’t let a little rain mess up our day and neither do land birds.

As humans, we shield ourselves from rain with waterproof jackets, while land birds are already shielded, because their feathers shed rain and trap air to keep them warm. 

Land birds stay as still as they can on purpose, so they can help preserve their energy. 

Keeping warm uses a lot of their energy, so if the storm doesn’t seem to be letting up birds get to the point where they have no choice but to brave the conditions in search of food. 

Song Birds

When it rains song birds will seek shelter in the foliage and remain as still as possible to retain energy.

They perch so that they are facing into the wind, which reduces air resistance and helps then to hold onto that all-important body heat for longer. 


Insectivore birds such as robins and warblers are birds that mainly live off insects.

When there’s heavy rain you may see these birds seeking out nectar and trapped insects. 

Like all small birds insectivores need lots of energy to sustain body heat in the rain, so if you see them flying about they’re probably on a frantic hunt for food. 


If it’s only light rain then this won’t deter raptors, as they know that the weather won’t deter their prey either. 

If the rain is heavy then raptors will seek shelter as they know that during heavy rainfall their prey will also be seeking shelter.

A raptors main reason for going out is to hunt, doing so at rainy times would be counterproductive and a waste of their energy. 

Water Birds

Aquatic birds love the water and they also love the rain.

After-all, the saying “it’s nice weather for ducks,” must hold some truth to it. 

Ducks love the rain and can often be seen submerging themselves beneath the water and splashing around.

Most water birds feed off insects and larvae, which are easier to find in wet weather. 

Ducks and swans can sleep on both water and land, whether it’s sunny or rainy. Their feathers are waterproof and they don’t lose body heat the same as non-aquatic birds do.

However, ducklings don’t like rain all that much because their feathers aren’t fully waterproof yet. Therefore heavy rain can soon turn them into shivering messes.

See Also: Spring Birds: Here’s The Best Birds In Spring

The Importance of Timing?

Birds know that light rain can suddenly turn to heavy rain. 

They have flight and speed on their side but they need to be prepared, as they don’t want to get caught out in horrendous weather unless they have no other choice.

Dealing with rain and how to time it is dependant on the size of the bird and the severity of the weather. 

Timing and Small Birds

Smaller birds aren’t good in the rain at all, as due to their size they lose body heat quickly and run the risk of getting hypothermia. 

As soon as it rains small birds will usually seek shelter in trees and bushes as quickly as they can. 

They will only brave the rain if the storm is relentless and they have no other choice but to go out and find food to restore their energy. 

For small birds, it’s all about being quick and smart. For them, it isn’t just a case of the rain and cold being unpleasant for them, in extreme cases it could actually cost them their lives.

Timing and Big Birds

Bigger birds aren’t all that affected by the rain. They don’t have to worry about losing body heat as quickly and some of them actually like sitting in the rain and using it to help clean their feathers.

They also don’t have to worry about the rain affecting their balance as much as smaller birds, as they can withstand more volatile weather.

Most large birds will avoid hunting in the rain because they know that their prey are likely to be seeking shelter. 

These birds will usually find shelter and wait the storm out. For them a storm is more tedious than dangerous. 

Heavy Rain and Small Birds

Small birds like to avoid heavy rain completely but being small isn’t all that bad, as it means they can sneak into small and cosy spaces, such as buses and tree hollows and stay warm. 

If a bird is somewhere nice and cosy then it will stay warm and won’t lose body temperature. 

They will only have to consider venturing out into the stormy weather if the storm goes on for a long time, as small birds have to feed often to keep their energy up. 

See Also: Facts About Parrots: 16 Fun Facts That’ll Make Everyone You Know Say “I Never Knew That!”

Heavy Rain and Big Birds

The biggest danger for large birds and dealing with the rain is that it makes flying harder for them.

Stormy weather can knock them off route and cloud their vision and they’ve been known to fly into buildings, trees, and windows. 

Bad weather isn’t much fun for any birds; except for aquatic birds such as ducks. Even with waterproof feathers, the rain can cause problems for large land and sea birds. 

FAQs: The Answers to the Most Asked Questions about Birds in the Rain

Do you still have some unanswered questions on where birds go in the rain? Read on, as below I give the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions. 

Question 1: Can Birds Fly in Heavy Rain?

Birds have oily feathers so they can repel the rain up to a point and maintain flight.

Small birds can’t cope in heavy rain as not only do their wings get saturated with rain which makes them too heavy to properly operate but they also run the risk of getting hypothermia. 

Larger birds don’t have to worry as much about their wings not working properly or about getting hypothermia, as their size makes them able to withstand far more than smaller birds. 

However, a heavy storm can make it dangerous for large birds to see where they’re going and this makes flying more difficult for them. 

Question 2: How do Birds Protect Themselves from the Rain?

Small birds will try to shelter from extreme weather.

They can only stay away for a few hours as they need to feed regularly. 

If you see a small bird in the rain they will have their bodies upright and their beaks pointed towards the rain. 

This position helps them to conserve as much energy as possible while allowing the raindrops to flow off them. 

As soon as the sun comes out these birds will preen their feathers and dry them in the sun. 

Question 3: Which Birds are Waiting for Rain?

Robins (left), thrushes (center), and warblers (right)

Robins, thrushes, and warblers can often be seen excitedly scavenging about during rainstorms.

This is because the food they love to eat such as insects are easier to find in wet weather. 

They will eat before eventually finding shelter to preserve their body heat. For them rain results in a feast of delights, which may explain why they always appear so excitable in the rain. 

Aquatic birds also love the rain. Ducks spend most of their time paddling about in ponds and lakes so rain doesn’t bother them at all. 

Question 4: Where do Birds go During a Storm?

They will seek shelter and try to wait out the storm. They will remain motionless so that they can preserve body heat. 

As soon as the storm ends they will return and chirpily go in search of their next meal. 

Question 5: Where do Birds go in Windy Weather?

Small birds will hide out until the bad weather passes, as their size makes it hard for them to withstand strong winds. 

Larger birds fly directly against the storm, as the rising air carries them higher-and-higher. 

A soaring bird allows the storm to raise them higher, this means they can preserve energy. This wind holds them up but it does slow down their movements. 

Question 6: Where do Birds go in the Snow?

When winter is looming birds know that preparation is key. Firstly, they will find the perfect shelter. Birds can roam for miles in search of the perfect home. 

As soon as they sense a change in the air pressure, they will begin to forage and eat more. Bulking up makes it far easier for birds to withstand the cold temperatures. 

Birds also have cold blood in their legs and feet, so they lose very little temperature through them. They also have a thicker plumage in the winter months which they molt when spring arrives. 

All this preparation means that as soon as the snowy weather arrives they’re prepared for it. 

Question 7: Can Birds Predict When it’s Going to Rain?

Birds seem to sense impending storms. This is mainly down to the change in atmospheric air pressure which their middle-ear receptor allows them to sense. 

Before a storm birds have a tendency to be quiet, while as soon as the storm ends they reappear and their chirps can be heard as they forage for food. 

It’s believed that seeing low flying birds also means that rain is due, while seeing high flying birds mean we can expect good weather. 

Whether birds can actually predict rain or not is unknown. However, it’s proven that they’re more susceptible to the signs that bad weather is coming, just as instinct tells them when to prepare for winter. 

Question 8: How do Birds Handle Hot Weather?

During warm weather birds pant to cool down, as this helps them to absorb heat from their body. 

They also like to splash about in shallow water, so on a warm day bird baths will prove a popular place to be for them.


During particularly warm weather you’re more likely to see birds foraging for food during the morning and late afternoon, as these times are cooler and not as hot for them. 

Birds may be small but they’re pretty smart and they know how to survive, whatever the weather.

Birds and Rainy Weather: An Overview

Next time it rains and you’re nice and warm in your house spare a thought for birds.

They might be stuck out in the eye of the storm trying to control their flying. 

Small birds are likely to be hiding out in a bush or tree somewhere staying as still as they can so that they don’t lose too much body heat. 

Luckily for birds rain doesn’t last too long, so the next time a storm passes look out into your garden or park and see how many chirping birds you can spot foraging.

Birds are smart, resilient creatures that don’t let a little bit of rain ruin their day.

Julian Goldie - Owner of ChiperBirds.com

Julian Goldie

I'm a bird enthusiast and creator of Chipper Birds, a blog sharing my experience caring for birds. I've traveled the world bird watching and I'm committed to helping others with bird care. Contact me at [email protected] for assistance.