Some seabirds don’t just survive storms. They use them to their
The streaked shearwater is a seabird that is known to nest on islands off the coast of Japan. These birds have been observed to fly straight into passing typhoons and remain in the eye of the storm for extended periods of time. This behavior is not seen in any other bird species and may help the streaked shearwaters
Birds and other animals living in areas with hurricanes and typhoons have adopted strategies to weather these deadly storms. In recent years, a few studies using GPS trackers have revealed that some ocean-dwelling birds - such as the frigatebird - will take massive detours to avoid cycl
When a storm approaches, shearwaters take to the skies and fly as far away from the storm as possible. Based on the GPS data, the team found that the birds flew an average of 62 miles (100 kilometers) from their nesting site during storms. “This is the first time that we have been able to track animals in real time and see how
The researchers discovered that shearwaters that were caught out in the open ocean when a storm blew in would ride tailwinds around the edges of the storm. However, others that found themselves sandwiched between land and the eye of a strong cyclone would sometimes veer off their usual flight patterns and head toward the center of the storm. By combining this information with data on
Shearwaters are a type of seabird that are known to fly long distances. Recently, 75 shearwaters were monitored and it was found that 13 of them flew into the eye of a cyclone, staying there for up to eight hours. This was a surprising finding, as it was not something that was predicted.
The shearwaters were more likely to head for the eye during stronger storms, soaring on winds as swift as 75 kilometers per hour. This suggests that the birds might be following the eye to avoid being blown inland, where they risk crashing onto land or being hit by flying debris, Shepard says.
While this is the first time this behavior has been spotted in any bird species, flying with the winds could be a common tactic for preserving energy during cyclones, says Andrew Farnsworth, an ornithologist at Cornell University who was not involved in the study. “It might seem counterintuitive,” he says. “But from the perspective