Bird Blob Blots Minnesota Weather Radar
It's a bird, it's a plane, it's...nope, wait...it's a bird. A lot of them.
With clear skies and a rising sun Tuesday morning, meteorologists in Duluth couldn't help but wonder what the blue blob on their radar was.
Turns out it was migrating birds, specifically seagulls and lake gulls.
Despite their presence on the radar, there weren't actually as many birds as you'd think. The national weather service explained, "The bird density was about 3-6 birds at a time onscreen all going south. Radar returns are based on the diameter of the scatterer to the 6th power. So the birds look like large hail stones, they really light up the display even though there aren't as many as you'd think."
Unsurprisingly, it's not uncommon to see gulls in Duluth and along the North Shore. Says the Minnesota DNR:
The most easily-seen bird at Gooseberry, Herring Gulls are big, gray-backed gulls with pink legs. They nest on the cliff by the mouth of the river, and they are present year-round, but are not very common in winter. Sometimes other gulls stop here when they see the flock of Herring Gulls. Ring-billed Gulls, which nest in Duluth, sometimes visit here in summer. In winter, northern gulls, such as Glaucous Gulls, Thayer's Gulls, and Iceland Gulls sometimes make brief appearances. Great Black-backed Gulls show up on rare occasions, but their range is expanding from the east, so eventually they may be regular residents on the North Shore.
This isn't the first time flying species have muddled weather radars. In July 2017 a swarm of mayflies showed up on radar near La Crosse, WI.