The Identification of Military Installations as Important Migratory Bird Stopover Sites and the Development of Bird Migration Forecast Models: A Radar Ornithology Approach
ENGINEER RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CENTER VICKSBURG MS ENVIRONMENTAL LAB
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Military lands and waters may be particularly valuable for migrating birds requiring stopover habitat to rest and refuel en route to very distant seasonal ranges. Recent developments in radar technology have provided powerful tools for investigating on a broad scale migrant use of military installations thus providing an opportunity to improve both conservation and flight safety measures. In this study, spring and fall migrant use of 40 military installations across the United States were qualitatively investigated. These times of year were selected since they are the periods when BASH is of most concern. Migratory patterns on three installations Eglin Air Force Base, FL Ft. Polk, LA and Yuma Proving Ground, AZ were then closely examined and migration forecast models for those locations were developed with the goal of providing a tool for reducing the probability of collisions between birds and military aircraft. A comparison was also made between radar estimates of migrant densities aloft during exodus events and more traditional ground-based surveys to evaluate the effectiveness of estimating migrant abundance in stopover habitat with radar data. At Fort Polk, movement ecology and migrant-habitat relations of the Red-eyed Vireo were investigated during migratory stopover. Lastly, migrant use of diverse riparian habitats was compared along water courses near the Yuma Proving Ground. Results indicated that approximately half of the installations examined with radar data contained migrant stopover hotspots, reaffirming the fact that military installations are important to migrating birds. Interestingly, migrant abundances, and species turnover as estimated by ground-based surveys, were found to be poorly reflected migrant densities estimated with radar data. Migrant abundance, species richness, and community composition were all also found to be influenced by riparian vegetation composition.
- Active and Passive Radar Detection and Equipment