Full Moon Bird Observations
Tonight is the official “Full Moon” and there are no owls in sight. A fun project to do when the moon is full is to set up a telescope and sit back to continue to watch the moon for a straight hour. While watching, be sure to count the number of birds you see (yes you will see them moving) and then there is some math that will help you determine the number of birds moving over your location. It will truly amaze you once you start to add all the numbers together!! You can then look at the radar and you will be able to see about the number of birds flying in the sky all at the same time across the united states.
For the math, I took this info from the “Living on the wind across the hemisphere with migratory birds” page 30 by Scott Weidensaul; if you were to average four birds per ten minute block of time in PA of course, the moon’s disk is only a fraction park of the sky, but it represents that cornerstone of science, a random sample. If you were to draw a line from the horizon to horizon, the full moon covers about half degree of the night sky along it – 1/695 or a circle, or 1/347.45 of the visible sky, to be more precise. To estimate the number of birds passing, I simply multiplied my average of four birds by six for the hour, then multiplied those twenty-four songirds by 347.45. According to my observations, about 8,349 birds should have passed within few of my twenty power scope – a span about a mile and a half wide during that one hour.
Now, the location he is discussing wouldn’t be in a major migration location along the gulf coast or Cape May. Those numbers would increase drastically if you only saw one or more bird(s) per 10 minute block. Let me know if you give this project a try.
Radar shows a strong movement of birds again tonight with perfect calm NE winds and clear sky.