Nice View of Bird Migration Tonight

10pm Saturday…

Sometimes I have coworkers laugh at me when I mention we can see migrating birds on radar.  We can’t see specific birds (1 mallard, 2 loons, 3 Canada Geese etc…) but objects that reflect energy back to the radar.  This is what the radar loop looks like

Here is the three-hour radar loop from the Portland radar (located SW of Scappoose) ending at 10pm:


Notice under clear skies we suddenly see the radar screen fill up after sunset.  Most birds prefer to migrate in the nighttime hours when wind speed and turbulence are both (often) weaker.

This evening’s VAD wind profile from the Portland radar makes it pretty obvious what’s going on.  Keep in mind that we have north/northeast wind 10-20 mph over us this evening from just above the surface to 10,000′.  That’s from the evening sounding; the balloon that’s launched twice a day over Salem.


Notice the wind is from the north before sunset, then right after the “wind” switches to the south and the radar echoes gradually rise in elevation.  That’s birds taking off and working their way up to a higher elevation.  Poor guys are battling a 10-20 mph headwind tonight!

I’ve posted about this phenomenon in the past and you can find more info in a previous post here.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

16 Responses to Nice View of Bird Migration Tonight

  1. Looks like some forest fire smoke from Siberia and dust from China

  2. schmit44 says:

    4/19/2015 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:90 at AGNESS2( 247 ft)
    Low: 65 at RED MOUND(1753 ft)

    High:44 at HOWARD Mt Howard(8150 ft)
    Low: 13 at CROW FLAT (5172 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 57 degrees
    Horse Ridge (US (71/14 ) (4160 ft )

  3. W7ENK says:

    Tonight’s sunset from Milwaukie, made red by smoke from the fires in Siberia.

  4. High Desert Mat says:

    Crazy how hazy it is over here in Redmond today. Looks like some forest fire smoke from Siberia and dust from China and Mongolia mixing together for a “crusty” sky. Maybe tomorrow will be better.

    • Boydo3 N. Albany elev. just under 500' says:

      Same on this side. Kept the temps down a few degrees.

  5. janice says:

    Well thank you very interesting! I really thought they just slept at night they always look so frantic when they come out of trees at night! Lol!

  6. Brian Leroy says:

    SeaTac should have it’s first 70 degrees today finally, better late then never.

  7. Vinnybob says:

    I saw a few Loons yesterday.

  8. Garron near Washington square says:

    After this morning, I’m pretty sure I know what a sunrise on Mars looks like. Heading out to play in the milky skied day….Is this going to effect our day time high temps?

    • Dave in south Salem (500') says:

      We’re not going to hit 80 today. Looks like Los Angeles in the sky.

  9. schmit44 says:

    4/18/2015 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:85 at Brookings (US 10( 150 ft) & Brookings Airpor(459 ft)
    Low: 59 at RED MOUND(1753 ft)

    High:43 at HOWARD Mt Howard(8150 ft)
    Low: 17 at Horse Ridge (US (4160 ft ) & CROW FLAT (5172 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 47 degrees
    Horse Ridge (US (64/17 ) (4160 ft )

  10. catalin stoica says:


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