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Author Topic:   RADAR For the Birds
jimh posted 04-16-2007 10:56 PM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
I have seen several discussions about small boat RADAR units and their ability to get return echoes from birds. Is there something significant about finding birds with your RADAR? About all that comes to my mind is perhaps locating birds might be useful in locating fish. Is that what perks the interest in avian echoes?
Bella con23 posted 04-16-2007 11:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for Bella con23  Send Email to Bella con23     
For me it would be the significance of fish feeding under the birds such as Stripers, Blues, Weaks, etc. It's a thought I have not taken in to consideration in my evaluation of a small boat radar. For that I thank you for bringing it up.
David Pendleton posted 04-16-2007 11:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Pendleton  Send Email to David Pendleton     
More often than not large flocks of birds mean baitfish at the surface which means bigger fish underneath.

I've seen the enormous flocks of Cormorants on radar in Lake Michigan. Of course, that probably means they've eaten anything and everything in their wake...

srax6 posted 04-18-2007 08:56 AM ET (US)     Profile for srax6  Send Email to srax6     
I am contemplating a radar for my t-top being installed in about a month. Does anyone know what beam width is required to mark birds? The 2kw models are in the 5 degree range while the 4kw are 3.9 degrees. I know that total range (16nm vs 36nm) is not a factor with the antenna 8 feet off the water but my main concern is finding a flock of birds over baitfish. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
swist posted 04-18-2007 09:35 AM ET (US)     Profile for swist  Send Email to swist     
I ran a high-quality Raytheon RL-72 radar in an area with huge flocks of seabirds, and never saw anything on radar. This doesn't mean it's not possible to tune the unit such that bird returns could be seen, but I suspect you would probably be fiddling with the part of the unit that detects and eliminates ground clutter. At that point I would not be sure what I was looking at, but obviously if someone else can make it work, good luck to them!
handn posted 04-19-2007 12:28 AM ET (US)     Profile for handn  Send Email to handn     
I have had two boats with radar, one with a furuno 1621 and the second with a furuno navnet closed array 24 nautical mile distance radar. Neither of them can pick up the image of feeding birds at least when I am pushing the buttons.
According to fishing magazine propaganda, a powerful radar will pick up feeding birds and lead the happy owner to great fishing. Maybe someday when I get that 48 footer with the 64 n.m. open aray on top of the 60 foot tuna tower.
aja posted 04-19-2007 08:09 AM ET (US)     Profile for aja  Send Email to aja     
Owners of saiboats and even small fiberglass power boats are often advised to mount radar reflectors if operating in areas where fog and commercial traffic are common. If radar can apparently pick up a bird at some distance, how could it possibly miss an entire boat without a reflector? The whole thing sounds suspisciously like a claim being made to sell radar units to people who don't know how to find fish - and probably won't have any better luck with another gadget on board.
jimh posted 04-19-2007 11:50 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Here is an interesting paper which describes an Avian RADAR system, primarily designed to detect birds near airports to help avoid bird-aircraft strike hazards (BASH).

David Pendleton posted 04-19-2007 01:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Pendleton  Send Email to David Pendleton     
One bird? Uh, no. Many birds, absolutely.

Most RADAR texts will you FRP is a very poor reflector, hence the reflector recommendation. Waypoints_8-04.pdf

bluewaterpirate posted 04-19-2007 02:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for bluewaterpirate  Send Email to bluewaterpirate     
Open arrays are better for this because they have narrow beam widths. Turn the FTC/STC off and adjust the power out accordingly. I've actually tracked birds on small boat radars at 12 miles. As always atmospherics have alot to do with.

While I was in the Navy we used to track flamingos and storks migrating from Europe to Africa on our radars. We intercepted some one day using F14's. We were operating in the the Gulf of Sidra in support of FON Ops (Freedom of Navigation). We were screwing around with Kadafi.

The reason we intercepted the birds was we were always worried about the terroists flying explosive equipped hang gliders into our ships. Needless to say, the F14 crews weren't happy when we finally got them to the right altitude so they could VID the birds. We didn't really know they were birds to start with.


cubanwhaler posted 04-19-2007 09:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for cubanwhaler  Send Email to cubanwhaler     
yes, if the fish aren't under your boat, then find the birds.

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