Hurricane Matthew is bearing down on the USA and in it's wake people have already died, but for birdwatchers it seems there will be a bonanza. Tragic loss of life and property is not something people wish for, but birdwatchers know there will be a boon. eBird reported last month that massive and destructive hurricanes bring joy to the hearts of birdwatchers. "The want for massive, untamedhurricanes," appears to be a "strange yearning" amongst the fraternity. In the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew many of them will get a chance to see rare birds thathave been carried in on the storm. Apart from storm-chasers and weather people, birders must be one of the few groups who actually want a hurricane to happen.

Birds caught up in the eye of the storm

When WSB TV covered the news that flocks of seagulls and other birds were trapped inside the eye of Hurricane Matthew, they said that it was a rare thing to see. The video clearly showed the birds as a blob of green and yellow.

However, according to bird lovers who know what there is to know about birds, it is not really rare. What is rare is to see the blob in the eye of the storm and a newscaster talking about weird bird events. Those not in the know about the habits of flying feathered ones find it spooky and more than little strange.

Once in a lifetime sightings

Way back in September 2011, the New York Times carried a story about the phenomenon that gets birders excited about hurricanes.

AfterTropical Storm Irene, New York birdwatchers "reflexively — and joyfully — reached for binoculars," they wrote. The excitement was all about the fact that serious 'twitchers' know that pelagic birds get caught up in the eye of the storm and have to stay with it. Once in a lifetime sightings of birds that are scarce or rarely seen suddenly appear on the doorstep so to speak.

Birds And Blooms call them“hurricane birds" and explain that sometimes they are found way inland. They do caution birdwatchers to be particularly careful though, as powerful storms are a health hazard, and warnpeople to be aware of the dangers to their safety. In the case of Hurricane Matthew which is a genuinescary monster, it should be assumed that everybody will take care of their own safety.

Nevertheless, we are talking serious, fanatical people where birding goes beyond a mere hobby.

Hurricane birding and safety

The New JerseyAudubon Society did say after Irene, there were birders standing around on beaches dangerously close to giant surge waves and in wind that was blasting sand everywhere. Regarding bird mortality, they mentioned that that probably many birds die in the storms. It all depends how long they can stay aloft and stay with the eye as the storm tracks. However,many birds apparently can stay aloft long enough to survive and once the storm is over they land in places very far from home.

Hurricane Matthew is unpredictable, huge and headed for millions of people. Hundreds of thousands of people are without power, massive numbers of people have been evacuated and FEMA is on full emergency alert, but for birdwatchers the bird bonanza yet to come is something they will be eagerly anticipating.

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