|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.