Explained: Mysterious lights over Milwaukee [Seagulls, Night Exposure Trails]

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=si7JAZgc4iI

[Thread Summary Post, original post is now #2]

Mystery Solved by Fox 6 News in a later video, lights at the courthouse illuminating a flock of seagulls.

Metabunk 2018-03-01 11-11-21.jpg

Metabunk 2018-03-01 11-13-23.jpg

The original video is set for night exposure, which creates trails behind the brightly lit seagulls. The cars in the video have similar trails
Mysterious-lights-over-Milwaukee-2-27-18-2-BIRDS.gif


If you apply a persistent image filter to the seagulls you get:
Metabunk 2018-03-01 12-45-18.jpg

Some people still insist the traffic camera video shows something a lot higher and larger than seagulls, but in this next video I compare them to the courthouse seagulls in size, which makes them only a few hundred feet away.
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hDRbrVJeT8
 
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deirdre

Senior Member
it might be a fish tank reflected in a window. Meh.
if you read the link to your fox6news article, then you know its not a fish tank reflection.

and this is how you follow the No Click Policy:

"vapor trails"?
they are just movement blurs
 

Radapox

Member
Sorry about that, wasn't aware of the policy. Yes, I have read my own link, just not overly convinced by the seagull hypothesis (nor by the fish tank one). Movement blurs, might be.
 

deirdre

Senior Member
just not overly convinced by the seagull hypothesis
she says in the video
here is the original tower cam view.. what I mark as 'towers' are the things with red lights on them. the courthouse is near there and based on the courthouse video, they are filming from the right side of my pic in the general direction of the arrow. You can play with the map views here. https://www.google.com/maps/search/Milwaukee,+WI+courthouse/@43.0457398,-87.905365,164a,35y,218.38h,76.57t/data=!3m1!1e3

birds.JPG

my arrow is a bit off, so basically they are pointing at the lower circle of birds on my pic. (lower is my non artistic way of indicating closer to the viewer)
upload_2018-2-28_18-44-42.png


Would be a bit too coincidental for aliens to be flying around but half an hour later an "Alfred Hitchcock" type flock of seagulls (as she describes it) is filmed in the exact same area.
 
Look closely at the cars zipping along the freeway in the lower right left of the frame. Several of them leave the same light trails as the things up in the sky. Seagull theory looks good to me.
 

tairstrike

New Member
It looks like you're suggesting the tower camera is on one of Juneau Village Towers (JVT). I don't know that it's there for certain, but I wouldn't argue it. Based on a quick Google Earth measure, it looks like the 'twin lights' 8 seconds into the video going right to left in the middle of the screen are about the quickest objects I can see. The appear about 1/2 way between the single tower light and double tower light. ~4 seconds later, they end at about the double tower light.




The courthouse is ~1 mile away from JVT as the crow (pigeon) flys. If we measure the above movement ~1 mile away from JVT, it looks to be about 0.1 miles.

That suggests they travelled 0.1 miles in 4 seconds (~90 mph). Top speed of a pigeon could be ~90 mph I guess?
 

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JFDee

Senior Member
Ah, they are live stream cameras, as in crappy cameras
I think the issue is rather the night situation and the exposure of the camera.

The brightness level in that stream is 'unnaturally' high. A still with that setting would need a long-time exposure, and indeed the excerpt in question looks like a movie sequence of long-exposure images (as seen in @deirdre's frame with the moving car).

Strong hypothesis:

1. With a 'normal' night setting of the camera, the birds wouldn't even be visible.

2. The 'trails' are a consequence of the high exposure setting, as seen with other moving objects.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
In the actual "UFO" video the cars are leaving the same trails, just harder to see because of the cluttered background.
Mysterious-lights-over-Milwaukee-2-27-18-Road-Loop.gif

Birds, persistent image from night exposure.
 

Radapox

Member
In the actual "UFO" video the cars are leaving the same trails, just harder to see because of the cluttered background.
Good catch! I still had some doubts towards the camera artefact solution because of the lack of "fuzziness" of the trail left by the car in the picture Deirdre posted earlier, but these seem to match those in the sky quite accurately. Case pretty much closed, I'd say. Aliens seagulls it is, then. ;)

Thanks all y'all for your contributions!
 

pony

New Member
If it is birds, has this phenomenon been captured before?

How long has the camera been pointing in that direction?

Or is this the first time seagulls fly around that specific area?
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
If it is birds, has this phenomenon been captured before?

How long has the camera been pointing in that direction?

Or is this the first time seagulls fly around that specific area?
It clearly is birds, as there's close up video of them at the same time and place.

So the question of if it has happened before is not relevant.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Look closely at the cars zipping along the freeway in the lower right left of the frame. Several of them leave the same light trails as the things up in the sky. Seagull theory looks good to me.
Sorry I didn't notice this before I posted the same observation. You were first!
 

Joeman

New Member
Im leaning on the Seagull theory myself, but there's one thing that gets me. In the original video, the seagulls are flying sky high above all the buildings in Milwaukee. It clearly shows the birds are flying way above all these buildings.

Based on research, the average flying height for the bird is 50 feet, 124 maximum or the record height better yet.
https://www.mdislander.com/maine-news/seagull-research-high-fly

It's about 10 feet per story of a building and there's many that are much much higher than that. 200 feet, 300, 400....
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Storey

So are all the birds breaking a world record together by flying 200+ feet?
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member

deirdre

Senior Member
the camera changes in my above link.. here is yet a different camera that is live now and there are seagulls flying around. my photo doesn't capture them well but ive marked the height of one
http://fox6now.com/on-air/live-streaming-sc-2/
3-2-2018 4-24-27 PM.png


b.png

Capture.JPG


and even in the daylight, some of them when flying horizontal past the dark building are leaving blur marks behind them.
 
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Some people still insist the traffic camera video shows something a lot higher and larger than seagulls, but in this next video I compare them to the courthouse seagulls in size, which makes them only a few hundred feet away.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hDRbrVJeT8


I was actually a bit surprised the so many people still want to believe these are UFOs.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
The fact that the camera is creating the trails is indisputable, as it happens to the cars. It even happens to seagulls in daytime!

Metabunk 2018-03-02 16-55-41.jpg


Metabunk 2018-03-02 16-53-28.jpg
Metabunk 2018-03-02 16-52-11.jpg
Metabunk 2018-03-02 16-54-05.jpg

While precise reason is not crucial to the explanation, it would be interesting. Why would there be trails in a normal sunny image?

Two possibilities spring to mind:

1) The camera's bitrate is set for static images, so it's transmitting a high quality image with low quality movement information.

2) The type of camera has a sensor designed for static images and prevents burn-in by being less sensitive to light, hence the image builds up slowly in the sensor pixels (and hence decays slowly).
 

deirdre

Senior Member
Two possibilities spring to mind:
i'm not sure what either of your possibilities mean. But yesterday (which was a different cam.. I'm thinking tomorrow's live stream might be the UFO cam again) that camera had a large flag on the building and the way the flag moved was not fluid. even the cars going vertical were more jumping along the highway like little frogs.

The article said there are 3 Fox cams. so if they rotate them each day.. well you can do the date math :)
 

Ravi

Member
The fact that the camera is creating the trails is indisputable, as it happens to the cars. It even happens to seagulls in daytime!

While precise reason is not crucial to the explanation, it would be interesting. Why would there be trails in a normal sunny image?

Two possibilities spring to mind:

1) The camera's bitrate is set for static images, so it's transmitting a high quality image with low quality movement information.

2) The type of camera has a sensor designed for static images and prevents burn-in by being less sensitive to light, hence the image builds up slowly in the sensor pixels (and hence decays slowly).
Perhaps:

3) compression video stream algorithm

or even

4) applied image processing filter from the broadcaster to "enhance" or for whatever reason?
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I was recording a bit of their live camera yesterday when they moved it to look at the moon. This showed the image persistence quite clearly when they tilted up.
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWOgeB4FnIU


Metabunk 2018-03-03 08-54-48.jpg

It also shows the huge overexposure, they adjust the exposure until the moon is not glaring (but still overexposed) and the city lights are nearly gone. Moved the slider to see:

Metabunk 2018-03-03 08-55-53 B.jpg Metabunk 2018-03-03 08-55-53 A.jpg
 

Tedsson

Member
Im leaning on the Seagull theory myself, but there's one thing that gets me. In the original video, the seagulls are flying sky high above all the buildings in Milwaukee. It clearly shows the birds are flying way above all these buildings.

Based on research, the average flying height for the bird is 50 feet, 124 maximum or the record height better yet.
https://www.mdislander.com/maine-news/seagull-research-high-fly

It's about 10 feet per story of a building and there's many that are much much higher than that. 200 feet, 300, 400....
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Storey

So are all the birds breaking a world record together by flying 200+ feet?
I read that study. It is specific to what those gulls did in that specific environment.

Gulls can fly much higher than 124’. They have been observed at 8,000’. If they couldn’t exceed 124’ they would crash into the White Cliffs of Dover. They don’t.

They probably don’t bother flying at height except when they are migrating. Why waste the energy. They also hawk and there are more flying insects at lower levels.

As they are large powerful birds I can see no reason why they couldn’t get up to 10-20,000’, cloud base permitting.

Any of the resident pilots seen gulls at altitude?

I can’t help but think the big giveaway lies in the fact that in the very first video they actually look like gulls in one of their typical circling behaviours.
 

Whitebeard

Senior Member
Based on research, the average flying height for the bird is 50 feet, 124 maximum or the record height better yet.
I live in a high rise, 14 floors (plus a ground level - this is the UK). My flat is on floor 12 and gulls, mainly Herring, Greater Black Backed and Black Headed are always flying past my windows, what more they nest on the building roof, and thats, including the utility penthouse, is around 180ft up. What is more its comman to see them a lot higher that that, add in thhe fact that the building is already 50ft above sea level and round here the gulls are getting up to around 600ft on occassions.

Whats more the 124ft study you quoted was based on a study of only eight monitored birds living near a refuse tip in Maine, an area where they have no need to fly higher than the data returned and based on the very small sample size, and the very small geographical area, should in no way be used as flight performance data for gulls anywhere else.
 
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