Where do birds go during a tornado

Ornithology: Birds anticipate tornadoes

Birds seem to have the ability to anticipate tornadoes. Researchers working with Henry Streby from the University of California discovered this by chance. The scientists actually only wanted to study the migration routes of the golden-winged warbler, a bird species mainly native to the American continent. Since the animals are particularly tiny and light, Streby and his colleagues first had to test whether the birds were even able to drag recording devices around with them. When they analyzed the data from five devices, they were amazed to find that all the animals had left their nesting places widely between April 26 and May 2, 2014 - a behavior that they normally do not display.

At the same time, however, a heavy storm front moved across the southern United States, causing more than 80 tornadoes, which ultimately also killed 35 people. The researchers therefore conclude that the animals saw the storm coming and therefore ran away in good time. The golden wing warblers fled a day or two in advance and recognized the storm front just as early as meteorologists. To do this, they traveled up to 1,500 kilometers, after which they returned to their breeding grounds.

Streby and his team suspect that the birds perceive the approaching storm via infrasound. It has long been known that tornadoes generate such sound waves in a particularly low frequency range, which can then spread over thousands of kilometers. Humans cannot hear infrasound.