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Exotic birds traveled to Long Island with Sandy

Eileen Gerle points out birds during a walk

Eileen Gerle points out birds during a walk a West Meadow Beach Saturday morning. (March, 26, 2011) Credit: Jasmin Frankel

Bird watchers will get a special treat in the wake of Hurricane Sandy: experts say rare and exotic birds that usually aren’t around will be flying about. "The best chance to see rare birds will be right after the storm has passed," said Andrew Farnsworth, scientist with the Cornell Lab of Orinthology and project leader of BirdCast, the National Science Foundation-supported migratory bird tracking program.

Farnsworth says, "The most exotic of these will be found in the path of the storm from landfall until it makes a sharp turn northeast in southern Pennsylvania. We could be seeing birds that have been traveling with Sandy for hundreds of miles and are just looking for a break from the weather."

Now that conditions are safe, Long Islanders might notice some tropical or oceanic birds they’ve never seen before. More common species may gather in large concentrations along the shores or in open fields and vacant lots, where they attempt to take shelter.

Last year after tropical storm Irene, New York bird watchers caught glimpses of white-tailed tropicbirds and New England terns, sooty terns and bridled terns from the Caribbean.

According to the Cornell lab, birds typically avoid devastating winds during a hurricane in one of two ways: They either fly away from the storm or get trapped in its eye. They’re safe in the eye, and within it, can travel very far along with the storm and show up in some unexpected places when things calm down. Then as the storm moves inland, birds drop out and become stranded on lakes, rivers or other inland bodies of water. By the end of the week, the experts say we should expect to see flocks migrating back south.

You can see live updates and bird-sighting projections from the BirdCast Project at, and details about bird strategies during hurricanes at

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