Nov 112011

{click image to view large}

To watch this flock dance along the ground and in the air was a glorious gift yesterday!

I think now what I saw was a “mini” mumuration of starlings. A Flickr contact pointed me to this (two minute) video which shows their ballet on a grand scale:  Murmuration of Starlings in Ireland.

Nikon D300; f5.6 @ 1/350 sec, ISO 250 (handheld);
18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 200mm (300mm EFL); focus distance 33.5m

  5 Responses to “On the Wing”

  1. A pattern/texture of starlings vs the pattern/texture of the tree. One moving much faster than the other that we think is stationary!

    Thanks for the link to that video. Makes me wonder what on earth those birds were doing? For the fun of it? Or can’t they make up their minds which fields have the best grubs/seeds/food?

    Here’s a Wikipedia page with a collection of all the names of a collection/flock of birds of all types:

    Some of the names are hilarious.

  2. This is a wonderful reference, Flo!

    Though I’ve come across “an exaltation of larks”—one of my favorites— and “a murder of crows”, many are unfamiliar and fire the imagination.

    As for the behavior, here’s one clear explanation I came across (with additional video): The mathematics of murmurating starlings

    Each bird strives to fly as close to its neighbours as possible, instantly copying any changes in speed or direction. As a result, tiny deviations by one bird are magnified and distorted by those surrounding it, creating rippling, swirling patterns…

    The logic behind this spectacular behaviour is simple: survival. Starlings are tasty morsels for peregrines, merlins and sparrowhawks. The answer is to seek safety in numbers, gathering in flocks and with every bird trying to avoid the edge where adept predators can sometimes snatch a victim.

  3. And what holds for starlings also holds for gazelles in Africa and even schools of fish being chased by predators. For safety, the animals cluster as close together as possible and also seem to have some sort of group mind that decides for all of them when to swerve and turn – else they’d be running into each other, inflicting injuries on other members of their group and thus leaving more chances for their predators to catch food.

  4. Wings and trees… what a metaphoric dense scene. First, one needs to give kids the roots of a tree and then, they need the wings of a bird…

    I am impressed and touched.


  5. Thank you for visiting and your comment, Roland.

    You see I’ve implemented an idea from your site: “CommentLuv.” 🙂

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