Just as a solar eclipse proves out of the ordinary for humans, it also causes the natural world to be a little thrown off. Scurrying around with fright, excitement, and confusion, many creatures during the 2017 solar eclipse had a range of reactions to the environment around them. As the light of day suddenly becomes the dark of night, wild animals are confronted with a choice – to carry on about their business, or to realize what is going on around them.
While smaller animals like fish, squirrels, insects, and bats behave as if nighttime has just come early, more intelligent animals behave in quite a different matter. Christian Damico, 23, of Atlanta, Georgia, watched the solar eclipse from Lake Allatoona and claims that “the forest got completely silent. Right as things were leading up to the peak of the eclipse, the squirrels and everything ran to hide. All was completely still.”
Meghan Flanagan, 21, of Atlanta, Georgia experienced a similar effect while viewing the eclipse from Lake Burton in North Georgia. “When it started to get dark it almost seemed like the fish went dormant when it got dark out. The water was completely still. It was a little eerie being out on the boat in the middle of the lake!”
In Charleston, South Carolina, where observers experienced the full eclipse, some took note of nocturnal animals awakening hours before nightfall. Burgin Benson, a bird watcher from Charleston, noticed an owl that had perched on the limb of an oak tree. Benson stated that “as the sky began to darken, it was as if the owl woke up from an afternoon nap. I first noticed his head turning side to side and then heard his call as he became alert.”
An article from Audobon.org titled “How Weird Will Wildlife Get During the 2017 Solar Eclipse?” talked about the biggest difference in animal behavior would be heard, not seen. The article encouraged eclipse watchers to take a moment during complete darkness to see if they noticed a change in the noises around them.
Angie Millon of Greenville, SC witnessed complete totality and she noticed two different animal behaviors by two different creatures. “When it became completely dark outside, the crickets began chirping as if it was the middle of the night. Then when the sun began to peek around the moon, my neighbor’s roosters started crowing! It was a little crazy!”
Stanley and Catherine Goodroe of Buena Vista, Georgia traveled to Murphy, North Carolina along with their dog, O’Malley, to experience the historical eclipse firsthand. The Goodroe’s pet cowered as they viewed “complete clear sunshine one minute then total darkness the next.”
Many animals were confused and went into night mode, but mostly those in complete totality of the eclipse. The actions from the animals in these areas show us humans that it is their innate nature to react to the environment, no matter what time of day.