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In the Magazine

Animal Logic

Conservation & the Environment

Ring around the moon, rain before noon.
A mirky milky way means a dull damp day.
Rain before seven, fine before eleven.

We've all heard them before, you know, those little stories and rhymes which have just sort of grown up with us, and many people swear by them. Others just know that if their corns ache or their arthritis plays up, rain is on the way! Animals in particular are said to have a sixth sense when it comes to the weather, and some people trust that ability. A powerful example of that was in 1975, when the Chinese city of Haicheng was evacuated based on observations of unusual animal behaviour. Three hours later a 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck. According to John Dengate, there's really no hard scientific data to support these ideas, some of them are myths and just plain fun, while others are more difficult to ignore.

Termites and ants increase their activity as soon as humid or wet weather begins. They're very dependent on moisture levels to survive, and they seem to wait for the onset of humid weather to begin colonising.

Frogs croaking around ponds is usually an indicator of storms. Tree frogs call when they detect a fall in the barometric pressure, and this usually means rain within 24 hours.

Birds often give clues about the possibility of rain, and as you'd expect most of them seem to be Australian native birds. An exception is the koel, a large black cuckoo which migrates from Indonesia every year to help us out with our forecasts. The calls of koels are regarded as a reliable guide to rain and summer storms. If kookaburras call in the middle of the day it's a sure sign of rain. Emus lay 2-4 weeks before rain. A small clutch means a dry season is on the way. When black cockatoos fly from the hills to the coast rain is on the way. Each bird in the flock equals one days rain!

So next time you want to know if it's going to rain, you could either tune in to the weather forecast, pay attention to all those signals from nature, or just look out the window and take a punt!

Further reading:

Nature's Weather Watch by Glenda Johns (Qld Complete Printing Services). Available from the author at Mail Service 316, Cunningham Road, Goomboorian, QLD, 4570. Cost $13.00 post paid.

Copyright CTC Productions 1999


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