Radar images have revealed the predicament of huge flocks of seabirds trapped in the eye of Hurricane Hermine.
Thousands of birds showed up as specks in the eye of Hermine on radar as the hurricane, which has since subsided to a tropical storm, barrelled from the Gulf of Mexico into Florida at 80 mph (130 km/h )on Friday 2 September.
Birds transported in a hurry included lease terns, royal terns, sooty terns and frigatebirds, reports Mashable. A similar bird phenomenon occurred in 2014 in North Carolina with Hurricane Arthur.
Birds do not usually intend to head for the storm's eye, but if they are there, they will attempt to stay in its relative safety until the hurricane blows itself out, according to bird expert Kenn Kaufmann, who has explained the phenomenon in Audubon magazine.
"They're out there in all this wild wind and when they chance into the calm of the eye they may make an effort to stay there and travel with it rather than fighting the winds again," he said.
"When the storm reaches land, some of them may start fighting the winds. Others may go with it and travel with the eye until the hurricane dissipates. The majority of seabirds, if they are not too weakened from having flown for so long without food, will probably find their way back to shore quickly. They have great powers of navigation."
Assuming the birds survived their experience with Hermine, they found themselves quickly transported from the tropics to the mid-latitudes, an exciting prospect for bird watchers.
"Birders often view these opportunities as a birding bonanza," says the Alabama Wildbird Conservation Association.
But hurricanes are generally bad news for birds, with mortality rates so high that a species can vanish from a hard-hit region.
Hurricane Hugo in 1989 killed half of the wild Puerto Rican parrots existing then, and the Cozumel Thrasher, found only on Mexico's Isla Cozumel, was pushed to the edge of extinction by Hurricane Gilbert in 1988, according to eNature.com.
Hermine is still close to hurricane strength and may still become a hurricane again as it moves up the Atlantic coast. Several beaches remain closed and severe flooding and storm warning are in effect for the mid-Atlantic and the southern New England states.