Massive flock of birds measuring 180 miles across is captured on a weather radar


Massive flock of birds measuring 180 miles across is captured on a weather radar as they take off near Key West

  • A massive flock of birds was captured on a weather radar Mon around midnight
  • The flock took off from Key West and measured about 180 miles across 
  • Experts say this is called ‘roost rings’ as they migrate before sunrise to find food 

It’s that time of year when hundreds of bird species embark on their journey back to North America after spending the winter months in warm climates – and a massive flock was captured on a weather radar.

The birds took off around midnight near Key West on Monday and meteorologists estimate the radius of the flock is at least 90 miles out from the center.

Experts believe this group began its journey in Cuba, passed over the keys and found a spot in Florida to land just before sunrise.

The sighting, which is called ‘roost rings’ is particularly common around this time, as birds take off from their roosting sites around dawn in order to forage for food.

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It’s that time of year when hundreds of bird species embark on their journey back to North America after spending the winter months in warm climates - and a massive flock was captured on a weather radar

It’s that time of year when hundreds of bird species embark on their journey back to North America after spending the winter months in warm climates – and a massive flock was captured on a weather radar

The video of the flock was shared by the National Weather Service Key West, which wrote: ‘Key West radar had a busy night, but not because of weather! The most impressive display of migratory birds so far this year occurred overnight Sunday.’ 

‘This product distinguishes between biological targets (birds) shown in green/yellow and meteorological targets (showers and rain) depicted in darker blues.’

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‘The birds first appear on radar as they depart from Cuba and emerge in the Florida Straits, disappearing below the radar towards dawn as they reach mainland Florida.’

At the start of warmer weather, usually around the summer months, flocks begin to travel in ‘doughnut patters’ just before the sun rises.

The birds took off around midnight near Key West on Monday and meteorologists estimate the radius of the flock is at least 90 miles out from the center. Experts believe this group began its journey in Cuba, passed over the keys and found a spot in Florida to land just before sunrise

The birds took off around midnight near Key West on Monday and meteorologists estimate the radius of the flock is at least 90 miles out from the center. Experts believe this group began its journey in Cuba, passed over the keys and found a spot in Florida to land just before sunrise

Experts call this event ‘roost rings’, which is the detection of thousands of bids taking off at once to forage for food – mainly insects.

‘The unique doughnut pattern of these roost rings is the result of the martins departing their roosting sites in various directions,’ the National Weather Service explains on its website.

‘As they travel farther from their roosting sites and reach higher altitudes in lower densities, the birds show up on radar as expanding, fading rings until they either fly above or below the radar beam and are no longer detected.’

The sighting, which is called ‘roost rings’ is particularly common around this time, as birds take off from their roosting sites around dawn in order to forage for food

The sighting, which is called ‘roost rings’ is particularly common around this time, as birds take off from their roosting sites around dawn in order to forage for food

And the flock spotted on Monday are falling in line with this natural event.

Weather Service meteorologist Kate Lenninger of the Key West office, told the Tampa Bay Times: ‘There was kind of a stable layer of air above us that was deflecting the radar beam closer to the surface.’

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‘So, we were able to pick up more low level objects.”

Lenninger said the group that was captured on the radar began their journey from Cuba the day before.

And te Weather Service’s radar in Miami also caught some of the birds.

‘The migration patterns are typical and expected this time of year,’ Lenninger said, ‘and they sometimes capture flocks on radar as the birds make their way south during fall as well.’

 



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