12x12 relief carved and hand painted ceramic swan tile.
Available from http://earthsongtiles.com
Long before radio and television weather reports many people lived closer to nature, especially in rural areas and farms. Being unaware of the concept of pressure systems, they did notice that when certain things happened in nature, often certain other things happened in the weather. Over time these 'forecasts' were made into sayings, often in the form of rhymes. Many of the rhymes had to do with the behavior of birds, who are actually pretty good at short term weather forecasting, as various changes in the atmosphere affect them in ways that are readily apparent:
The goose and the gander
Begin to meander,
The matter is plain;
They are dancing for rain.
When the peacock loudly bawls
Soon you'll have both rain and squalls.
Wild geese, wild geese
Going out to sea
All fine weather it will be.
These pithy proverbs are based on the fact that birds have extremely sensitive hearing and can actually hear an approaching thunder storm when it's still many miles away. Their hollow feathers also enable them to feel low frequency sound waves. Wild geese on the Atlantic sea coast wait for the best flying weather and nobody goes anywhere until they get it.
Birds flying low
Expect rain and a blow.
Though birds are not aware that when barometric pressure is high, weather is usually good and generally bad when it's low, they do know enough to choose an altitude where the air is fairly dense. Dense air provides more lift under the wings. On fair high pressure days, this optimum level can be thousands of feet up, when low pressure moves in, the 'thickest' air and best fly space is lower to the ground. Small and large birds are similarly affected by the air density, but small birds have another reason for lowering their altitude...dinner.
Insects are greatly affected by the increased levels of relative humidity prior to rain, moisture in the air makes flying difficult for small winged creatures so they tend to stay lower down where it's less humid.