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Migration Forecasts Could Help Prevent Wind Turbines and Buildings From Killing Millions of Birds

By Science

April 9, 2018

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A team of researchers from the University of Oxford in the U.K. and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology have constructed a computer model of weather and bird migration to scale up and automate predictions so bird deaths by wind farms and buildings could be prevented.

The researchers first analyzed weather radar images from 143 sites across the U.S., studying the same 30-minute period each night during the migration season. They also examined records from 1995 to 2017 to estimate the average number of birds migrating on any given night across the country.

The researchers then compared all these movements to the local weather at the time when birds started a particular leg of their journey, and found air temperature to be the prime predictor of how many birds would be flying that night. From this and other data they built a model to reliably forecast bird movements up to three days in advance.

The team hopes the forecast will help owners of tall buildings know when to turn off unnecessary lights, and tell owners of wind farms when to shut down their turbines because migratory birds are expected to pass.

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