Zaugg, S., G. Saporta, E. van Loon, H. Schmaljohann & F. Liechti (2008)

Automatic identification of bird targets with radar via patterns produced by wing flapping.

Further information

J. R. Soc. Interface 5 (26): 1041–1053




Bird identification with radar is important for bird migration research, environmental impact assessments (e.g. wind farms), aircraft security and radar meteorology. In a study on bird migration, radar signals from birds, insects and ground clutter were recorded. Signals from birds show a typical pattern due to wing flapping. The data were labelled by experts into the four classes BIRD, INSECT, CLUTTER and UFO (unidentifiable signals). We present a classification algorithm aimed at automatic recognition of bird targets. Variables related to signal intensity and wing flapping pattern were extracted (via continuous wavelet transform). We used support vector classifiers to build predictive models. We estimated classification performance via cross validation on four datasets. When data from the same dataset were used for training and testing the classifier, the classification performance was extremely to moderately high. When data from one dataset were used for training and the three remaining datasets were used as test sets, the performance was lower but still extremely to moderately high. This shows that the method generalizes well across different locations or times. Our method provides a substantial gain of time when birds must be identified in large collections of radar signals and it represents the first substantial step in developing a real time bird identification radar system. We provide some guidelines and ideas for future research.
Keywords: radar ornithology, bird identification, pattern recognition, continuous wavelet transform, feature extraction, support vector machine