How Birds Fooled Military Radar

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A technology to ignore birds on radar ended up being useful to study and conserve them.

To learn more about this topic, start your googling with these keywords:
Radar aeroecology - the use of radar to study airborne life, like birds, bats, and bugs
Radar ornithology - the use of radar to study birds, especially bird migration
Dual-polarization radar - radar that transmits and receives waves in both a horizontal and vertical orientation, giving a better idea of a target’s size, shape, and variety.
Doppler effect - a change in a wave’s frequency in relation to whatever is observing it, such as a radar, but also your ears (it’s the reason a sound like an ambulance siren changes as it gets closer or further away from you).

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Julián Gustavo Gómez (@TheJulianGomez) | Script Writer, Narrator and Director
Sarah Berman (@sarahjberman) | Illustration, Video Editing and Animation
Aldo de Vos, Know Art | Music

MinuteEarth is produced by Neptune Studios LLC

Sarah Berman • Arcadi Garcia i Rius
David Goldenberg • Julián Gustavo Gómez
Melissa Hayes • Alex Reich • Henry Reich • Peter Reich
Ever Salazar • Leonardo Souza • Kate Yoshida

Radar footage by National Weather Service, BirdCast, and Alex Bencke

Swallows footage by Ted Cheskey, Nature Canada

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Dokter, Adriaan M., et al. "Bird migration flight altitudes studied by a network of operational weather radars." Journal of the Royal Society Interface 8.54 (2011): 30-43.

Duda, Jeff. "How to use and interpret Doppler weather radar." Retrieved July 18 (2009): 2014.

Fox, Anthony D., and Patrick DL Beasley. "David Lack and the birth of radar ornithology." Archives of natural history 37.2 (2010): 325-332.

Gauthreaux Jr, Sidney A., and Carroll G. Belser. "Radar ornithology and biological conservation." The Auk 120.2 (2003): 266-277.

Hüppop, Ommo, et al. "Perspectives and challenges for the use of radar in biological conservation." Ecography 42.5 (2019): 912-930.

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Marshall, S., & Toma, A. (2012, May 23). The close calls: How false alarms triggered fears of Nuclear War. Council for a Livable World. Retrieved November 2, 2021, from

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Zhang, Pengfei, Shun Liu, and Qin Xu. "Identifying Doppler velocity contamination caused by migrating birds. Part I: Feature extraction and quantification." Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology 22.8 (2005): 1105-1113.