Birds showing up in Doppler Radar

The past two mornings there have been a large number of birds showing up on doppler radar. While it is not uncommon to see birds occasionally on radar, the signatures have been very large and very pronounced the past two days. It would appear the early warm weather has caused not only the plants to come out early but also the birds to start migrating back north and becoming active.

Yesterday there were flocks of Canada Geese flying north on radar; they were cool because they were flying in formations. Other large flocks of birds likely starlings or another species have been taking off from along the confluence of the Congaree and Wateree rivers Southeast of Columbia, SC. There is a vast wetland there as well as the Congaree National Park and Manchester State Forest.

What they look like on radar:

One of the great advancements of Dual-Polarization Doppler Radar is the ability not only to detect precipitation but also the type.  The horizontal and vertical beams of the radar can give you a cross section of a radar returns, and you can tell roughly the size and shape of that target about other targets around it. For rain or snow, almost all of those are the same size and show up on the dual-pol data similar. When there are things like debris in tornadoes or hail mixed with rain or in this case birds. They show up as lots of different sizes we call this the Correlation Coefffeciten or just CC for short. That is the image on the right in the radar loop, and the left is the normal radar return. You can see right at sunrise around 7 am they all takeoff and fly north towards Charlotte.

As they get closer to Charlotte, they spread out.

Funny thing I walked outside when that large plume was over Charlotte, and all I heard were birds. We’ll have to see if we get another burst of these birds tomorrow. It looks like the birds think winter is over as well so might be a good time to fill those feeders.

Video from Statesville: