- Extracting bird migration information from C-band Doppler weather radars
- Volume | Issue number
- 150 | 4
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)
Although radar has been used in studies of bird migration for 60 years, there is still no network in Europe for comprehensive monitoring of bird migration. Europe has a dense network of military air surveillance radars but most systems are not directly suitable for reliable bird monitoring. Since the early 1990s, Doppler radars and wind profilers have been introduced in meteorology to measure wind. These wind measurements are known to be contaminated with insect and bird echoes. The aim of the present research is to assess how bird migration information can be deduced from meteorological Doppler radar output. We compare the observations on migrating birds using a dedicated X-band bird radar with those using a C-band Doppler weather radar. The observations were collected in the Netherlands, from 1 March to 22 May 2003. In this period, the bird radar showed that densities of more than one bird per km 3 are present in 20% of all measurements. Among these measurements, the weather radar correctly recognized 86% of the cases when birds were present; in 38% of the cases with no birds detected by the bird radar, the weather radar claimed bird presence (false positive). The comparison showed that in this study reliable altitudinal density profiles of birds cannot be obtained from the weather radar. However, when integrated over altitude, weather radar reflectivity is correlated with bird radar density. Moreover, bird flight speeds from both radars show good agreement in 78% of cases, and flight direction in 73% of cases. The usefulness of the existing network of weather radars for deducing information on bird migration offers a great opportunity for a European-wide monitoring network of bird migration.
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