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Birds caught on Doppler Radar making ‘donut’ in the sky

JACKSONVILLE, Florida -- The National Weather Service's Doppler Radar caught a flock of birds making a donut in the sky on the morning of Wednesday November 7th.

Stormtrack 8 Meteorologist Eric Sorensen said, "Doppler Radar bounces microwave signals off of targets then analyzes how the objects motion is altered by the return signal. In this case, those blips (radar returns) are birds."

Birds took flight from one place and spread out evenly as they ascended into the air. But how do we know they are birds? Eric says "doppler radar can see the shapes of things. Falling raindrops appear as thick pancakes while snowflakes have jagged edges. In this case, the birds' wings have a unique shape that the radar identifies as "biological."

Since birds roost at night and take flight in the morning, there's also a better ability for Meteorologists to see them take off versus landing. Radar is especially sensitive toward sunrise with a phenomenon called atmospheric ducting. "This is when the radar's signals are bent toward the ground which allows us to see activity in lower elevations as ducts of cool air can be sandwiched under warm air, which often happens late at night."

"You can see some pretty cool things on Doppler Radar!" Eric says.

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