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Satellite images, instruments, applications, and forecasters – these are our modern sources of weather and climate information. But did you know that animals are also capable of telling us what kind of weather is coming our way?
Compared to humans, some animals have special capabilities and more developed senses of smell and hearing. Recently, a study called Biophony has been examining sounds in a habitat at a certain time to analyze animal behavior before storms.
According to Dr. Simon Robson from the School of Marine and Tropical Biology at the James Cook University-Australia, some animals have the ability to forecast the weather through their behavior. Get to know some of weather’s wonder animals!
According to farmers, cows have the ability to forecast the weather. When cows become restless and lie down in the field to claim dry spots, it means they sense bad weather.
Scientists at the Universities of Arizona and Northern Missouri conducted a study about the behavior of cows in connection to the weather. It showed that cows lie down when it is about to get cold, and stand for long hours when it is about to get hot.
When bad weather enters, ants, particularly the red and black, build up their mounds as extra protection for their holes. A higher mound may be a sign of incoming rains or thunderstorms.
Ants tend to scatter during good weather and travel in straight lines when rain is brewing. They close their holes before the rain, and open them in in fair or dry weather. Ants may even become more aggressive and destructive in a drought condition.
Bees and butterflies
When bees and butterflies disappear from the flowerbeds, heavy rains are expected in the next hours. Butterflies and bees are referred to as indicator species.
Their short lifespans are also observed to study the effects of climate change.
A lot of legends have come out about the ability of birds to predict storms or other natural disasters. Scientists believe birds can hear infrasound, a type of low frequency noise produced by storms, which humans are not capable of hearing.
Most birds also have special middle-ear receptors called the Vitali organ that can sense small changes in air pressure. Birds that fly high in the sky signify good weather, but if they fly low, a thunderstorm or bad weather is approaching.
Some believe that birds fly lower before the rain because they try to get closer to the insects, which also fly lower to the ground before the showers. But others say that flying closer to the ground protects birds from the air pressure of a storm at higher altitudes.
Other beliefs: if a rooster crows before sleeping, there is a chance of rain. Chickens that group together while scratching for food also indicate bad weather. When owls cry strangely in the night, good weather will probably be experienced the following day. Meanwhile, ducks behaving unusually could mean bad weather is approaching.
The frogs are believed to croak or sing longer and louder than the usual when bad weather is on the way. If the volume increases, rains or gusty winds may affect the area.
Spiders building their webs are believed to signify good weather conditions. If you see their webs scattered in the air, it could mean a dry spell. Spiders tend to be active and leave their webs before the rain pours. If there’s an incoming storm, spiders strengthen their webs.
Though there is no enough scientific proof, some of these animals may have helped in weather forecasting during the ancient times.
But in this day and age, it is always best to monitor the weather, not necessarily through animal behavior, but through meteorological agencies for more accurate and reliable information.