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Scientific Discussions

Migration Science: one in every four birds gone in the US and Canada

A study published today in the journal Science reveals that the volume of spring migration, as measured by the NEXRAD radar network in the night skies, has dropped by 14 percent in the past decade. The paper further compiles bird survey data collected on the ground, indicating that bird populations in the United States and Canada have declined by 29 percent since 1970, representing a loss of almost 3 billion birds. 


Monitoring at the National 9/11 Memorial & Museum Tribute in Light, 2019

Members of the BirdCast team will be at the Tribute in Light with New York City Audubon volunteers to monitor bird appearing in the intense beams of light this evening and collect additional data to study the effects of these intense lights on bird migration.


Interactive Map: the passage of Hurricane Dorian

Hurricanes and their impacts, in particular in depositing seabirds far afield from their normal haunts, represent unique opportunities to understand how animals behave in and respond to serious disturbances. Check out live sightings of species that may by associated with the passage of Dorian this week.


Migration alert: Nocturnal migration around Hurricane Dorian

BirdCast tracks with great interest the movements of hurricanes and the pelagic species that they often entrain and displace on shore and at times far inland. The team is also interested in bird migration around hurricanes, and with the arrival and passage of Hurricane Dorian off the coast of Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas, we can see how some birds handle the circulation of an intense cyclonic storm.


BirdCast’s Fall 2019 Campaign Begins

Welcome to fall migration season 2019 for BirdCast! Our 3-day forecast maps have returned, and our migration maps are live, so you can check predictions for and monitor nightly migration intensity through the fall season. Please visit us often!


MistNet: Measuring historical bird migration in the US using archived weather radar data and convolutional neural networks

Welcome MistNet, a deep convolutional neural network to discriminate precipitation from biology in radar scans! MistNet is a tool that can enable large‐scale, long‐term, and reproducible measurements of whole migration systems, a hallmark of developments by our collaborators at University of Massachusetts and the BirdCast team. Read on to find out more about today’s paper published describing this exciting new tool.


Eastern Promises … resurrected (and updated)

After the passage of the intense and destructive storm Sandy in Fall 2012, BirdCast spent some time discussing the effects of atmospheric blocking patterns on species composition in eastern North America. Based on recent occurrence of a number of European species in eastern North America, we thought it useful to resurrect, albeit briefly, this discussion.


A primer for using weather surveillance radar to study bird migration

As a reminder to what the team is working on here at BirdCast, we return to a post we wrote last year. With spring upon us and migration in full swing, here is a primer on what we do. We turn weather radar data into information on the numbers and flight directions of birds aloft in order to expand the understanding of migratory bird movement. After several years (and hundreds of posts) describing migration, species on the move, and unique migration events, we want you to have a better understanding of what happens at BirdCast. Here is a brief overview and a behind-the-scenes look at the ways we apply radar data to study bird migration.


Missing the mark: a brief discussion of migration in northeastern North America associated with a strong frontal passage

19-22 April 2019 saw some spectacularly intense weather in the eastern US, with some obvious after effects in terms of migrating birds’ distributions. Read on for a brief description of events that presumably carried nocturnally migrating songbirds farther afield that they intended to travel.


Good heavens, BirdCast: ssss-science!

The BirdCast team has been busy publishing science! We have been very fortunate to publish a number of papers over the past year to document all the cool findings we’ve discovered in our work and with our collaborators. Here is a short summary of some of them, with links to where you can read more.


Global Big Day: Species on the Move in the US

Global Big Day is nearly here, and Team BirdCast wishes all of you birding around the planet an exciting, safe, and diverse day! For those teams birding in the US, we have a special addition of Species on the Move … Good luck to all!


Species on the Move, Global Big Day Edition: Great Knot

Global Big Day is almost here, and here’s another Species on the Move that teams in Eastern Asia may hope to find!


Species on the move: a quick look among continents

Migration is well under way across the globe, and Team BirdCast is highlighting a few species in interactive maps made with eBird data. Check out how the progression of migration for the group of species has changed over the last 30 days.


Bright lights in the big cities: migratory birds’ exposure to artificial light

New research from the BirdCast team highlights risks of exposure to artificial light at night for migrating birds. We ranked metropolitan areas where birds are at the greatest risk of becoming attracted to and disoriented by lights.


First arrivals: “Spring” 2019 BirdCast

With the vernal equinox approaching, Team BirdCast welcomes back our forecast and live migration maps for the spring 2019 season!


Tracking Hurricane Michael

Hurricane Michael strengthened rapidly into a major hurricane on Tuesday, and as with previous storms on which BirdCast reported, it may have dramatic impacts on local and transient bird communities and their habitats when it comes ashore and passes through the Southeastern US. Live sightings will appear on the current observations map as they are entered into eBird, but as always, for those in the path of this storm, safety first!


Interactive Map: Tracking Hurricane Rosa

Real-time sightings from your eBird checklists will appear in this post’s map, providing a unique opportunity to help us understand how these storms transport birds and how birds respond to extreme disturbances in their annual cycles.


Interactive Map: Tracking the dangerous Hurricane Florence

Hurricanes and their impacts, in particular in depositing seabirds far afield from their normal haunts, represent unique opportunities to understand how animals behave in and respond to serious disturbances. Hurricane Florence is no exception.


3-day Forecast Maps return in the Fall: BirdCast breaks for summer 2018

Thanks for all the memories! BirdCast automated forecast and live migration maps for Spring 2018 will be deactivated until 1 August 2018 – the last forecast map was published for the night of 31 May 2018, and the last live migration map will post on 15 June 2018. Please check back often for additional comments and posts on the spring 2018 season and the arrival of the farm migration maps on 1 August!


Spotlight on the Central US: intense spring migration traffic

BirdCast predicts medium to high migration traffic aloft over an extensive areas of the central US from Mexico to Canada this weekend. Let’s take a look briefly at why we think this will happen, and what species will be on the move.


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