NATURE NOTES: Birds and Gulf Storms Don’t Mix Well

Least tern eggs and chicks can be washed away by rising tides and storm surges from tropical storms and hurricanes.

With two possible hurricanes coming into the Gulf of Mexico as I write this, I wonder how the birds will fare. You’d think that because birds can fly, they would head to safety before a storm, but that is not the case for many. Different bird species are affected in different ways depending on their situation.

We don’t truly know how all of the species in an area handle major Gulf storms. We do know that an area that has taken a direct hit from a major hurricane can be almost totally devoid of birds for up to a year or more afterward. When Hurricane Harvey hit the Rockport area, much of that range did not see the regular land birds, such as northern cardinals and other songbirds, for a long time. This was most likely because the habitat damage wiped out shelter or food sources.

Martin Hagne is the Executive Director at Gulf Coast Bird Observatory, a non-profit organization dedicated to saving the birds and their habitats. Learn more about the observatory at

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