The only specific case  that I can remember of a passerine being deposited
in a northern location by a hurricane was the Gray Kingbird found on Long
Island, NY after hurricane Donna in 1960. I do not remember whether Donna's
path to Long Island included Florida or Georgia (where it could have picked
up the Gray Kingbird), but Donna did go over the Bahamas, and Long Islanders
assumed she got the Gray Kingbird there. I believe there are other Long
Island records of tropical passerines showing up immediately after
hurricanes that came ashore (e.g. the 1938 hurricane), but I do not remember
them offhand.

Observers from the Cape May observatory saw the following species in
Hurricane Floyd September 23, 1999: BRIDLED TERNS, ARCTIC TERNS, BLACK
no tropical passerines, are included on the list. It is probably more likely
that northeastern storms will bring migrants from the north ashore than that
they will transport tropical passerines the much longer distance.

There is an interesting article on chasing hurricane birds at
It mentions "thousands of birds" observed in the eye of hurricane Gloria as
it came ashore in southern New England in 1985. Unfortunately, it does not
say whether any were passerines. The birds were "presumably trapped by the
eye wall." However, the article recommends that there is no point in
expecting these birds to come down on land unless the eye of the storm
actually makes landfall. Most hurricane chasers, including myself in the
case of all storms I have chased except Donna, do not bird areas where the
eye of the storm, which only 15-20 miles wide,  has come ashore. Instead,
the areas we get to usually have been affected by periferal  winds, albeit
sometimes very strong winds not far from the eye wall itself. Roger is
probably right, that the birds expected from these winds are pushed ahead of
the storn, rather than trapped within it. (See e.g.,
which describes a number of pelagic species pushed into Delaware Bay by the
"remnant eye" of hurricane Bertha on July 13, 1996.; see also, another piece on hurricane

I did not see "thousands" of birds milling around in the eye of Donna, but I
did see hundreds in flight and on the ground when Donna came ashore at Jones
Beach, LI, NY.

In any case, Roger is undoubtedly right that most passerines are unlikely to
survive a hurricane and that passerines are probably much less likely to
survive than certain other birds. The birds most likely to survive are
pelagic birds. Next most likely to survive are strong flyers like gulls,
terns and shore birds.

Roger is probably also right in implying that non-migratory species, like a
Bannaquit, are less likely to survive than a migratory passerine that
routinely makes long migratory flights over water -- e.g. a Blackpoll
Warbler. Since most tropical island passerines are non-migratory,
expectations for their survival in a hurricane should be low.

I would expect the chances of a non-migratory island species being
transported to the mainland would increase if the hurricane chaser were
going to be in Florida, where Bonnie and Charlie are coming ashore and about
which Ryan Douglas inquired.

One tropical passerine that I would look for after a hurricane is Cave
Swallow. Swallows are strong fliers, and there are a number of records of
that species in the northeast.

All of the above having been said, many North American passerines have made
it to Europe. Some show up annually in the Scilly Isles. Many passerines
obviously are capable of remaining air borne over water for long periods of
time. Whether the high winds of a hurricane's eye wall actually keep them
aloft is difficult to study, but the air within the eye itself is calm and
sunlit, and passerines may be able to remain aloft fairly easily under their
own power in its environment.

Bob Fisher
Independence, Missouri
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