Where do birds go when it rains?

When the rains start, we humans instantly look for shelter to avoid getting wet and to see out the rain. However, in the case of animals, where do birds go when it rains? In this article, we’ll ease your curiosity. You will learn about where birds go when it rains.

Usually, when it rains, it is rare to see birds flying or even see them around. However, as soon as the clouds clear and the sun starts shining, you’ll see them out again, flying and chirping about.

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Storms are hazardous to several animals; birds are not left out; thus, rain can prove to be much of a danger to them; some even die as a result. However, their resilience and ingenuity keep them going through the rain.

What a bird will do or where a bird will go when it rains is dependent on some factors. It depends on the type of bird, the kind of rain falling, and the environment the bird finds itself in. Stay tuned as I take you through how these pretty creatures survive when it rains.

How different types of birds adapt to rain?

Big birds are stronger than smaller birds. Thus, they can weather rain better than small birds. Rain is not a small bird friend, small birds lose body heat quickly, and the rain doesn’t help matters. Lack of body heat can result in hypothermia.

As a result of this, at the slightest hint of rain, a small bird will instantly look for shelter, trees, or bushes to hide in and wait out the rain. However, if the rain persists, it may leave the shelter to look for food so that it doesn’t starve to death.

Where do birds go when it rains?

On the other hand, bigger birds don’t lose body energy as quickly as the smaller birds; thus, they don’t have to worry about being caught in the rain. Some big birds relish being in the rain and would allow the rain to bathe their feathers. This is a common occurrence in countries with hot weather where there has been a long drought.

However, they are aware that their prey would most likely be seeking shelter from the rain, so they follow suit and wait for the rain to stop and their prey to come out so that they can resume their hunting. Many species of birds possess feathers that are resistant to water. The birds can cover their feathers with a stratum of water-resistant oil.

The birds will curl their bill into the oil glands present at the foundation of their tail, smearing the oil all through their body with the aid of their beaks. There are various species and categories of birds, and they all react to rain differently. Some of these species and how they behave when it rains is outlined below.

Land Birds

Land birds can withstand slight rain; however, they will seek cover to stay dry if the rain persists and doesn’t stop falling. Their feathers help keep them warm in the rain, it discards the rain falling and traps air against their bodies, keeping it warm.

Aquatic Birds

The phrase “one man’s meat is another man’s poison” couldn’t be more accurate. Where other birds and even humans seek shelter from rain, rain is an invitation to the playground for aquatic birds like ducks and swans. 

Where do birds go when it rains?

They love submerging themselves in rain and muddy water; rain is more than a welcome advantage. Also, they find insects and larvae easily when it rains. 

Their feathers are water-resistant; thus, they don’t have to worry about losing body temperature and hypothermia, unlike other birds. They can adapt both on the land and in water. 

However, ducklings and small aquatic birds are not entirely immune to rain, their feathers are not fully developed, and it is not fully water-resistant. The rain can reduce them to shivering cold lots.

Insect – Eating Birds

Birds are both carnivores and herbivores; that is, they eat both plants and flesh. Most birds feed on insects; the rain may provide an ample opportunity to prey on insects that have become trapped. 

Where do birds go when it rains?

Small birds who cannot conserve energy need food to replenish their energy; thus, you may see them foraging about in the rain for insects to sustain their body heat while the rain persists. 


Big seabirds are quite resilient; they can weather the storm and wind when it is raining. Because of their size, they don’t fear the rain; however, weighty rain may also cause them to seek protection. 

On the other hand, small seabirds cannot run the risk of trying to weather the storm while it’s raining. They have to seek protection from the rain to not get cold. They usually look for where to stay on the land and wait out the storm. You would also see these seabirds on trees as they perch for safety, trying to wait out the rain. 

Where do birds go when it rains?

Seabirds preen glands manufacture oil, which makes sure their feathers are watertight against the weather. More often than not, when you sight a seabird seeking cover, it’s probably due to the unpredictability of the storm raging and not due to the rain. 


 Raptors are birds that prey on other creatures, and heavy rain will deter them in this act of theirs. It would just amount to a waste of energy as their prey would most likely seek shelter under the rain. 

So during heavy rain, raptors seek shelter and wait till it subsides. However, light rain will not deter a raptor in its bid to catch its prey. 


Songbirds are small birds. So they always seek shelter in the rain under any foliage or leaf they can find. They aim to conserve whatever energy they have by staying still. This helps to keep them alive while the rain falls. 

Kind of Rain (A storm or a light shower)

While rain is falling heavily, a bird usually keeps up a posture; it will keep its head backward, its body erects, and its beak is looking up for the rain.

Maintaining this stance will allow a bird to preserve more energy while also reducing the contact the rain makes with the body, causing raindrops to slide off the feathers. Birds cuddle each other to prevent rain and to stay warm. Some birds can still weather a drizzle, but birds have to seek cover and protection in the case of a storm.

In the case of small birds, a storm or heavy rain is a threat to them. However, their size can also be a blessing to them as it means they can seek cover from the rain in small places. Small birds can keep warm in small and cozy places; this helps them keep warm and not lose their body temperature.

However, if the rain persists for a long time, they have to look for food to keep their energy up. These little birds need to feed regularly to energize themselves. Big birds, however, because of their size, fare better during the rain than smaller birds. They may even decide to keep flying if there is no stormy weather. However, when the rains get heavy, it can disrupt their flying.

Rain can knock big birds off their routes when flying; the rain can also make their vision blurry. This can cause them to crash into buildings, trees, windows etc.


The environment a bird finds itself in can be the key to surviving a storm. Birds residing in a habitat filled with many trees may find it easy to weather the storm. They can seek refuge inside holes in the trees, inside thick hedges, or hang on the trees’ perches while its branches keep the rains from falling directly onto them.

The factor of the environment also comes into place concerning feeding; birds need to feed frequently to keep up their energy levels. Failure to do this can be disastrous. Where birds are in environments where their feeding is guaranteed, they need not worry about when the rain stops or not. However, it is a big problem where food is not readily available where a bird seeks shelter.

A bird can wait out the rain for a few hours; however, when it doesn’t subside for a long time, it becomes a problem. They would have to leave their shelter searching for food, which can be very difficult, especially with the weather. Well, survival is key, so they have to choose to feed over staying dry.

Feeding in the Rain

Due to a bird’s need for energy, it has to feed constantly. However, it may have to seek shelter and protection due to the rains and wait out the rain. However, after some time, a bird must feed to survive.

Some birds like the songbirds can go into hibernation mode when it is raining; they stay motionless and sleep. This helps them to conserve energy and stay warm. However, they too have to move out to find food, which begs the question of how birds feed in the rain.

Where do birds go when it rains?

Some birds are opportunists who thrive on getting food in every situation they find themselves in. Birds like thrushes, sparrows stand finches always find a way to get food in this situation. They will search for grubs and worms that have been washed out onto the open earth.

This situation, however, doesn’t favor raptors, they get wet easily in the rain, and this can lead to hypothermia. Thus, they find it difficult to thrive when it rains. The rain, of course, brings new opportunities for the water birds; they thrive in this weather. Also, the fact that their predators will most likely be seeking shelter also helps them to thrive. They feed fairly easily when it rains.

Birds that largely depend on insects are the worst hit when it rains. Their prey is usually active when it rains. The heavy rain and wind can also sweep away these insects, leaving nothing behind for these poor birds.

After the rains, these insect-eating birds will get desperate and try to get food at all costs. When the rain is very heavy, and it lasts for a long period, these birds may die due to lack of feeding. Their bodies are not built to withstand heavy rain and storms; they don’t have the capacity to produce body heat for a long period of time.


Aquatic birds like ducks and swans wish it rains every day. The rain is their playground. It brings no disadvantage to them. They delight in water, and they can find insects to eat when it rains.

Yes, they can predict when it’s going to rain; they possess Vitali Organ, a special middle-ear receptor that can detect minimal changes in atmospheric pressure. The height at which birds fly can help you decipher whether it will rain or not.

Many birds protect themselves from the rain by seeking shelter under bushes or a tree in order to stay dry. They can perch on a tree and wait out the rain. Their feathers also protect them from the rain, when rain falls on their feathers, it rolls off rather than the feather absorbing it. Some birds like ducks and swans, however, need no protection from the rain.

Yes, many birds can fly in the rain, however, they can’t fly for long distances or when the storms rage. They have an oil gland that protects their feathers. For long distances, the rain can make their wings become saturated, which is bad for flying.


It is not unusual to look to the skies and not see birds when it is raining. Just like humans, birds go to seek cover to protect themselves. Well, unlike us, they may not have a cozy bed to snuggle in, their body system does have certain mechanisms which keep them warm and safe.

Author Profile

Gabriel Tackett
Double major in Engineering and Geology at the University of Minnesota. Experienced shooter & hunter for over 15 years. Certified NRA officer for over 10 years working as a writer at Ballachy.com .

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