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What do birds do when it rains?

Updated on April 12, 2014

Rainy day birds..

I wondered this question too. I live near Seattle and it rains on about 150 days out of 365 each year. That's about 42% of the year. I wondered, how can birds stay dry when it's raining all of the time? Where do they eat and sleep?

They can't go to Starbucks to cheer them up, and they can't sleep in my house or car, although they could sleep under my car, although that's not happened yet. So what do birds DO?

Before I had a bird feeder, my curious mind searched for an answer, and I read about how birds are just like people and that they hunker down during bad weather. This might be normal bird behavior in some area, but it certainly doesn't apply to rainy Washington State. Here we have rainy days all day, day after day. If the birds couldn't fly or eat in the rain, they couldn't live here because we have weeks of rain! It turns out we have a mild climate that birds enjoy, as we have many birds that live here year round, like House Finches, Chickadees, Nuthatches, Sparrows, Robins, and more.

Birds Visit my Feeder Rain or Shine - Birds eat all day long, and a little rain doesn't stop them at all!

Chickadee eating sunflower in the rain
Chickadee eating sunflower in the rain

Black-capped chickadees love to eat sunflower seed from my bird feeder. Although they do seem to travel in groups, they have arrived at my backyard bird feeder at all times of the day, and they often eat even when it's raining. Their feathers must be made to work fine in the rain because they seem to have no trouble flying in wet weather. They do look a little more ruffled looking sometimes, though.

Did you know that chickadees actually hide seeds for later eating? Just like squirrels, they cache away their food. They have a good memory for remembering where they hide it. So, if you run out of seed, don't worry, the birds have some hidden away for a rainy day!

I've read that they will sometimes seek cover from rain in bird houses or holes in trees. I haven't seen this with my own eye, but they do like to go into bushes that have lots of leaves, and I imagine this gives them some shelter from the rain.

Robin in the Rain
Robin in the Rain

Robins Love Heavy Rain!

Robins eat worms and when it rains a lot, worms have to come to the top of the soil so that they can breathe. This makes them easy dinner for birds.

Red-Winged Blackbird Eating and Squawking - Just another rainy day....

Red-Winged Blackbird Eating and Squawking
Red-Winged Blackbird Eating and Squawking

I put out a seed bell and it was gone by the end of the week.

Northern Flickers Eating Suet in the Rain - One of the rare times when two of these large woodpeckers were eating at the same time....

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Give Birds some Shelter from the Rain

Woodlink NAWRCH Audubon Cedar Wren and Chickadee House
Woodlink NAWRCH Audubon Cedar Wren and Chickadee House

I put up a couple of birdhouses like this one. It's only been a few weeks so I haven't had a bird use it yet but I did see a chickadee hover in front of it and check it out. I've read that birds need more places to nest so I'm really hopeful that they will use it. I've read that you can put up a birdhouse any time of the year because birds will use it for shelter.


I hung up two birdhouses for my birds

Chickadee Birdhouses
Chickadee Birdhouses

I'm really excited that some chickadees might use these to nest in this Spring.

Do birds come to your bird feeder when it's raining? - Please comment on where you live and any bird behavior you've observed so we can all compare notes

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    • Snakesmum profile image

      Jean DAndrea 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      My home is Melbourne, Australia, and quite a few birds visit my suburban garden.

      When fruit is on the trees, there are rosellas and musk lorikeets, and blackbirds really love

      olives. Doves come for the corn I throw out for them.