Murmurations are a large group of starlings that twist, turn, swoop and swirl across the sky in heavenly shape-shifting clouds.
Earlier in the evening, small groups of starlings from the same area come together above a shared nest. The group moving becomes larger, moving in unison in an aerial dance tosses to the grand outlines against the fading sunlight.
Starlings are called as ‘partial migrants’: birds that are moving in some places and not in others. Our own starlings tend to stay put while those from colder countries in eastern Europe head to our shores, swelling our numbers during autumn and winter in order to create a truly awe-inspiring experience.
The researchers believe that the murmuration will give security; protection from predators such as peregrine falcons that are attracted by a large number of birds. After all, it is not so easy to distinguish between a starling, from a circular-group of hundreds or thousands! Experts still can’t believe how each starling knows which way to go without bumping into the other starling.
#Murmurations always form over the birds’ shared nest. As the number of starlings reaches the top most height and the last of the daylight begins to fade, an unknown signal seems to tell the group to funnel towards the ground with one last sweeping motion and soothing whoosh of wings. Roosts can be anything from a sharp to a seaside pier where the group can snuggle up together for warmth and talk about the best feeding grounds.
The birds need to gather together at hotter places and roost in close proximity in order to survive. Starlings can roost themselves into a roosting site – reed beds, dense hedges, human structures like scaffolds – at more than 500 birds per cubic metre, sometimes in flocks of several thousands.
A large crowd of birds would be an attractive target for predators. No bird wants to be the killed off, so security in numbers is the rule they follows, and swirling masses create a disorientating effect in order to avoid a single bird being targeted.
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