When Purple Martins Were Seen on Weather Radar

I love weather radar. For some weird reason, I find this strong desire to know exactly the true identity of every pixel that shows up on radar.

On the morning of July 7, 2018, I noticed what appeared to be a roost ring show up on radar southwest of Houston near Meadows Place, TX and SugarLand, TX. In fact, fellow Twitter tweep Jene Rockwood (@JeneRockwood) tweeted a question to our NWS Houston folks about the ring:

I followed this roost ring for several days, posting about it on Twitter on July 9, 2018:

After following this roost for several days, I decided to investigate the situation early on the morning of July 10, 2018 with another Twitter tweep, who goes by the moniker Little Ranch Media (@alittlerancher). Here is the tweet that included the radar:

What Little Ranch Media and I saw was awesome. Multiple flights, or wakings, of birds. What type of bird? We originally estimated they were sparrows. But, after days of inquiries, the Houston Audubon Society indicated that the birds were actually Purple Martins, and their numbers were estimated in the 200,000 to 500,000 range, or greater! Here is my first video of those little birds taking flight:

My investigation into this amazingly wonderful act in nature and its influence on weather radar caught the eye of local ABC television meteorologist, Travis Herzog (@HerzogWeather). The ABC news station wrote the following article:



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