Friday, November 4, 2011

A Murmuration of Starlings

A common starling in England

Today's blog is going to be a different one for me, yesterday Clint called me into his office to see the following video. It was like nothing I'd ever seen.  I got a case of goosebumps and read in the comments of another person getting goosebumps so I'm not alone in this experience.  This video, from what I can determine, was made on November 1, 2011,  in Ireland.

Below I cut and pasted some commentary about this amazing phenomenon:

This is one of the most spectacular animal phenomena known to man.

A murmuration, which this is, consists of thousands of tiny starlings (birds) collectively flying and swirling about. The mesmerizing act is typically seen at the beginning of winter, right before dusk, as the birds look for a place to roost for the night.

During the action, birds reach speeds of up to 20 mph.  In the video below, Vimeo user Sophie Windsor Clive captured an incredible example of the event on the River Shannon in Ireland. Clive and her companion, Liberty Smith, just seem to happen on the event as they were canoeing across. It was an amazing treat neither of them ever expected to see.

According to the Telegraph, what makes it so beautiful is actually a survival function:

“Numbers build up slowly near the roost over the afternoon as small groups of birds return from foraging in the area,” explains Paul Stancliffe of the British Trust for Ornithology. “By late afternoon there is a huge swirling cloud. It’s all about safety in numbers – none wants to be on the outside, none wants to be first to land.”

Essentially it's an epic battle to determine who in the flock survives, and who's a target for predators. According to the Telegraph, each bird tries to copy the bird next to it exactly, which results in a stunning rippling effect.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to watch this 2 minute video.  Please turn on your sound.

Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.


Clint said...

I have to agree this is a stunning and mesmerizing event, on a scale so massive that it defies verbal description. Can you imagine being in a canoe underneath as these birds perform their magic? I notice that the ladies involved were speechless afterward.

Carol Blackburn said...

Awesome video, Cindy. I've seen this on a smaller scale before and always thought it was two rival flocks fighting for territory. It can be scary if you are a fan of Alfred Hitchcock movies.

Shady Del Knight said...

Wow, Cindy! That looked like a scene out of the science fiction movie The Deadly Swarm in which a horde of killer bees terrorizes a town. I've seen smaller flocks of birds do this in my lifetime but not on this grand a scale. They all turn on a dime! The Blue Angels only wish they could perform such intricate maneuvers. I can't help wondering how they avoid midair collisions. Thank you for posting this awesome natural phenomenon, dear friend, and have a safe and happy weekend!

Sara G said...

Awesome video! Thanks for sharing with us. My husband and enjoyed watching!

Cindy Ellison said...

Carol ~ The Birds has always been one of my favorite movies. As Shady mentioned, I have seen this kind of swarming behaviour but on a much smaller scale. I was in such awe of this video when I saw it. Thank you, Carol, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Shady ~ Again I thank you for taking time out of your busy day to visit me and look at this bird video. I don't recall seeing The Swarm. I know we had bee hives in our yard when we were growing up. I don't like being around swarms of bees for sure. (I am working on my comment for your latest post, only got down to The Jelly Beans! :`D ) Let others figure that one out by visiting your blog by clicking on your picture by your comment! ☺

Sara G ~ It is so good to see you two days in a row! I am glad you and your husband liked the video. I need to get over to Clint's blog and read your comment on the "agreement" you have regarding Halloween candy! ☺ Have a fun and relaxing weekend. Thank you!

♥ Cindy