Come Fly With Me, Let’s Fly Let’s Fly Away…

By Tom Yulsman | August 22, 2014 12:36 pm

My friend and colleague Andrew Revkin found this wonderful video on the National Weather Service New York Facebook page and posted it to DotEarth, his N.Y. Times blog, this morning. It’s so impossibly cool I just had to share it with you too.

As rain showers disperse, there is an outward explosion visible in the radar loop  — apparently the signature of many thousands of insect-eating tree swallows taking off from their roosts along the Connecticut River at dawn today. As they fly away, they create a massive, expanding, flapping cloud that looks like rain showers on the radar. Andy has posted links to additional information about the birds at DotEarth, so check that out if you’re interested.

These birds aren’t the only winged creatures to have shown up on radar.

You might have seen this one back in July — a truly gargantuan emergence of mayflies along the Upper Mississippi River. They came out of the mud on the river bottom on July 20th, burst from the water and into the air, and were picked up on the radar loop above at 8:45 p.m.

The National Weather Service in La Crosse, Wisconsin, maintains a separate web page on this phenomenon, listing summaries of this and other mayfly emergence events. Check it out here.

Lastly, in case you didn’t catch the reference in the headline, well, listen to this.

  • berick

    Imagine the days of the Passenger Pigeon flocks – which were said to extend scores of miles and pass by for hours and hours.



ImaGeo is a visual blog focusing on the intersection of imagery, imagination and Earth. It focuses on spectacular visuals related to the science of our planet, with an emphasis (although not an exclusive one) on the unfolding Anthropocene Epoch.

About Tom Yulsman

Tom Yulsman is Director of the Center for Environmental Journalism and a Professor of Journalism at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He also continues to work as a science and environmental journalist with more than 30 years of experience producing content for major publications. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Audubon, Climate Central, Columbia Journalism Review, Discover, Nieman Reports, and many other publications. He has held a variety of editorial positions over the years, including a stint as editor-in-chief of Earth magazine. Yulsman has written one book: Origins: the Quest for Our Cosmic Roots, published by the Institute of Physics in 2003.


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