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Bird Migration Across U.S. on radar

This incredible video was compiled by Chris Wood at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. It is a time lapse that spans May 7 - 8, 2009, which helps differentiate atmospheric conditions from "biological targets" at radar stations across the country.

0:00 - 0:12   The video starts at 2:00PM ET on May 7, when most of the United States is showing various levels of precipitation. However, the uniform color (and "stippled" pattern) of the RADAR off the south coast of Texas is consistent with aerial insects and birds that have completed their migration across the Gulf of Mexico.

0:13 - 0:29   Starting around 8:00PM ET, as nightfall hits the East Coast, a new pattern emerges that is consistent with birds taking to the sky to begin their nocturnal migration in a wave that follows the setting sun--east to west--across the country.

0:30 - 0:39  Starting around 5:00AM ET, as the sunrise hits the East Coast, migrants land to refuel, and the pattern gradually disappears, with the rising sun east to west. (Note a strong storm across the Mississippi River Valley.)

0:40 - 0:46  The same pattern on the Texas Coast seen in the first part of this video--showing trans-gulf migrants--is beginning to emerge again.

Listen to the BirdNote show, "Radar Ornithology."

Read Chris's in-depth description on YouTube.

Learn more about Cornell's Birdcast program.


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Video credit: 
Christopher Wood