Birds of a Weather By: Wes Tallyn

Many times, a passing tropical weather system will sweep up or push species to a new area. This is most common with seabirds or birds that are in migration. Sometimes, fish too are moved from their southern seas to more northern areas.

After Hurricane Ian, I remember seeing a school of about 10 large bonefish on the flats of Tampa Bay. This was a very uncommon sight, but the rough weather passing to the South made it make more sense.

On the Wednesday after Hurricane Idalia, I received a group message about American Flamingos at Fred Howard Park in Tarpon Springs! I raced up to photograph the birds that day and had a count of 16 individuals in one group. It was the highest count ever for Pinellas County dating back to the 1800’s when records began being kept. Little did we know that over 100 American Flamingos would be tallied across the state in the hours to follow.

The birds would continue to spread to different areas and states over the next few days trying to find their way back to their home. Other seabirds, like this Brown Noddy, also show up close to shores that they would never otherwise have visited.

Many of these birds are exhausted from their time spent at sea during the storm. Often times, they will sit on structures like piers or channel markers to catch their breath. It’s very rare to see some seabird species in populated areas. They will typically only go to land to nest on uninhabited islands. You never know what you might see after a passing storm! So, when it’s safe, check out a shoreline Idalia, near you.