How Does Barometric Pressure Affect Birds?

How Does Barometric Pressure Affect Birds?

Last Updated on by Mitch Rezman

A recent request for information:

Hey guys, how about putting out some info on barometric pressure, and how it effects parrots, as well the wild birds. I’m here on the east coast getting ready for the BIG hurricane and my Parrotlet is acting a bit nervous.

Hi Patricia.

We have known for a long time birds will eat more as air pressure falls. This is because birds know that they have a hard time getting food during a storm and storms are usually associated with falling pressure so by having this innate ability to detect falling air pressure to predict a storm, that gives them more time to prepare much like we do by watching television or listening to the radio and then going to the grocery store. 

We’ve also known that migrating birds fly at altitudes other than birds are not migrating and these migrating birds are able to maintain these unique altitudes even on nights where there is no moon and they can’t see the ground at all. The general belief is that birds have a very sensitive “feeling” of air pressure. So much so that it’s known that they can actually detect the difference in altitude change in increments as small as 15 to 30 feet.
The most puzzling issue that science can’t figure out is how birds know what the air pressure is? Some surmise that birds feel the change in air pressure within their inner ear much like you or I feel air pressure changes on say a commercial airline flight when we feel our ears “pop”. Another theory is that pressure changes detected by birds are sensed in the air sacs that help fill a good deal of space inside their bodies. These sacs are connected to their lungs.
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Written by Mitch Rezman
Approved by Catherine Tobsing

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