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Raindrops keep falling on my head

Picture this: You have been planning a big family trip to the Zoo for a few weeks now. As the week of your trip approaches, you begin monitoring the weather forecast. Clear blue skies and mild temperatures seem to be in order for the occasion. You put all your worries aside about the weather and move ahead with your plans. Your Zoo trip day arrives and what happens? Overcast skies with a high likelihood of rain at some point during your visit. You have spent all this time and energy planning, not to mention money, for the day to not be so favorable. Your visit is ruined, right? Wrong!

It’s no coincidence that I sit here writing on this topic on a cold and chilly day. One of the more common struggles I hear from people trying to plan a Zoo trip is the constant battle with the weather. Many people feel like a day threatened by a chance of rain may dampen (bad joke, I know) their fun time at the Zoo. I recognize that some precipitation may present a few challenges in a largely outdoor venue such as a zoo. Still, opportunities for experiences that are just as valuable and entertaining can be had on these types of days as well.

Let’s be honest! You came here to see the animals, and surely most of them would want to hide from the rain like people do. That might be true for some, but many of our animals enjoy a good rain shower. This is especially true for our avian residents of the Bird Department. Birds will exhibit some very unique and strange behaviors during a rainstorm. Let’s look at a couple examples.

Pied pigeons from Asia can be found in several habitats at Zoo Atlanta. When it rains, this species will perform a pose that is akin to something seen in a yoga studio. Essentially, they will stretch a wing out and up on one side. Slowly, they will begin leaning to the opposite side of the outstretched wing until they are basically lying down. If you are picturing this correctly, then you now have a funny picture in your head. That’s right, it’s a pigeon washing its “armpits.”

Tawny frogmouths are a unique species that are often mistaken for owls. Currently, you can see these birds at Zoo Atlanta across from the rhinoceros habitat. Frogmouths are very fluffy looking normally, but when it rains, look out! In an effort to soak up the water, these birds will fluff out their feathers even more, along with spreading their wings downward. I’m not sure what to call this pose but it is certainly quite fascinating to behold.

Other birds will have a fun time during rain showers too. The white-faced whistling ducks will often go for a swim in their pool during rainfall, which aids them in their bathing process. The cranes are all housed in habitats that have the ability to retain a small amount of water. After rainfall, it’s a good time to watch them put those longs legs to work as they glide through the flooded part of the habitat. There are plenty of other behaviors that birds and other animals will display only during this type of weather. These are just a few examples of what you might be missing out on if you let the chance of precipitation ruin your trip.

Finally, here is a quick pro tip. If you are worried about getting rained out all the time at the Zoo, consider purchasing a Zoo Atlanta Membership. This allows you to come back whenever you want if the weather becomes a little too much for you and the animals. I hope you take away an appreciation of how not to dread, but maybe look on the “bright” side, of a slightly dreary forecast. Even if you can’t come join us on those days, we and the birds will still be here doing some unique things, even in the rain.

Kyle L.
Keeper II, Birds

Connect With Your Wild Side #onlyzooatl