Migration: Watch it Live on Radar

Doppler radar image originally posted by Badbirdz--Reloaded.com. Click image for animation.

What does spring migration look like? Until now I could only imagine it. I’ve often wondered where I could find up-to-date tracking information on bird migrations. Building a strategic network of bird alerts to subscribe to and read each day would be one method, of course. Recently though, I discovered not one but two birding blogs that present Doppler radar tracking of migrating flocks: Badbirdz–Reloaded, based in Florida, and Woodcreeper, which covers New Jersey. Their posts from the last few days — Feeling the Zugunruhe! [migration restlessness] and Migrants Just Making it into New Jersey offer animated Doppler radar images of birds on the move. Fascinating!

According to Badbirdz–Reloaded, both sites were inspired by Noel Wamer, a birder from Northeast Florida with a passion for tracking bird migrations using radar. Noel was apparently quite a personality, as a Woodcreeper tribute post to him from March 2007 attests.

If Noel taught these bloggers how to use radar to track birds then he has done a great service to everyone. Both sites extend that knowledge with pages for explaining how this is done. Badbirdz–Reloaded.com has a Birds and Radar Primer with several important links, including a New Jersey Audubon article How NEXRAD Sees the Atmosphere. Woodcreeper.com provides a Radar & Migration FAQ with a link to Radar Ornithology: Introduction  of the Clemson University Radar Ornithology Lab.

Although it seems to be a firmly established field, radar ornithology represents a whole new aspect of birding for me. It is exciting to discover a brand new aspect of hobby that you’ve been enjoying for some time. There is so much to read and learn. I better hurry though. The birds are coming and now I can see them.

Celebrating Science in Philadelphia

There is a new event happening April 15 – 28 here in Philadelphia that aims to be an annual event. The first Philadelphia Science Festival will spotlight the long and esteemed history of science in the city and highlight the important role of science in Philadelphia’s current academic, economic, and cultural life.


For two weeks Philadelphia’s schools, universities, cultural institutions, and research centers will come together as a single, united voice to put science in the spotlight. Scientists and engineers throughout the city will present fun, interactive programs for Philadelphians of all ages.

The Philadelphia region has long been a birthplace of innovation and continues to be an incubator of countless breakthroughs across a variety of disciplines. Yet many are unaware of the fascinating scientific activity happening all around us. The Philadelphia Science Festival aims to remedy this by engaging all Philadelphians in the science that makes this city great. A unique collaboration among organizations of varying sizes and missions, this truly citywide event is fueled by the best scientific and educational resources this city has to offer.  [http://www.philasciencefestival.org/]

I’m sure there will be great activities for kids, but I’m hoping there will also be informative and thought-provoking events for adults as well. Philadelphia has an exceptional tradition in the sciences: from Ben Franklin’s experiments with electricity to ENIAC, from sponsored natural history research at the Academy of Natural Sciences to medical breakthroughs at the cities prestigious teaching and research hospitals.

While you are contemplating what events to attend, vote on a name for the official festival brew — a special Belgian-style ale crafted by the Yards Brewing Co.!

Name the Philadelphia Science Festival Beer!

To celebrate the Philadelphia Science Festival, Yards is brewing a special Belgian Strong Ale. Its first tapping will be at the Science Festival tap party on Friday, April 15. It will also be available at café events throughout the city, throughout the Festival.


My suggestion was: Bartram’s Botanic Ale .  If that shows up in the list please vote it up!

This is a great idea for a festival and especially for a city like Philadelphia!

Releases from Philadelphia Science Festival Press Room

First Philadelphia Science Festival “experiments” with broad range of events this April. – March 9, 2011

Dow Helps Launch Philadelphia Science Festival in April through Presenting Sponsorship. – March 3, 2011

Philadelphia Science Festival Celebrates City’s Rich History of Invention, Innovation. – February 15, 2011

Philadelphia Science Festival will turn schoolyards, theaters – even a Major League ballpark – into hands-on laboratories for learning. – January 19, 2011

Philadelphia’s Museums, Cultural Institutions, Universities and Corporations Join Forces For Unprecedented Citywide Science Festival – September 27, 2010