Where Do the Birds Go When It Rains?


A localized but vicious storm swept across our neighborhood last Friday. One moment, the birds were singing in the surrounding trees. The next moment, we heard the sound of hail pounding the side of the house. The creek behind our house reached the top of its banks. Leaves plastered our house and cars. Branches were everywhere. Then, just as suddenly, it was over. While Carol and I were surveying the mess that the storm left in its wake, a bluebird jumped up on our deck, and we soon heard the chorus of birdsongs singing once again.

I wondered where the birds go when it rains. Naturalist Steven Stolper says that during light rains, the birds' feathers shed the rain and serve as a blanket, trapping air to keep their bodies warm.

Heavy rains are another matter. A storm such as the one we witnessed on Friday causes the birds to “seek shelter in bushes and trees.  They remain motionless and conserve energy much as they do at night.”[1]

The birds instinctively know to shelter in place. During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus invited his listeners to “Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:26).

During these days of coronavirus, we too shelter in place. It may seem like it is taking forever, but these days of staying home one day will come to an end. We will find ways to stop the coronavirus from inflicting such a merciless toll on people. Life might not return to exactly the same as it was before, but we will adjust and create a new normal. We will sing again.

Meanwhile, let’s take a lesson from the birds and remember that every human being is of value, loved and cared for by our heavenly Father.

This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise,

the morning light, the lily white, declare their maker’s praise.

This is my Father’s world: he shines in all that’s fair;

in the rustling grass I hear him pass; he speaks to me everywhere.[2]

[1] Steven Stolper, “Where do Birds go When it Rains?” in NatureOutside.com. February 11, 2018. Accessed on April 27, 2020 at https://www.natureoutside.com/where-do-birds-go-when-it-rains/. [2] “This Is My Father’s World,” verse 2. Words: Maltbie D. Babcock, 1901; Music: Trad. English melody; adapt. By franklin L. Sheppard, 1915. The United Methodist Hymnal (Nashville: United Methodist Publishing House, 1989), 144.

Carol took the photo of the cardinal in the backyard of our friend, Dottie Nickerson, on December 9, 2019.

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