Thursday, 19 February 2015

Day 110 - Marvellous Murmurations

Hi all today's Day 110 and on Twitter I recently heard that there was a large nature event that was happening near me at a place called Flask Lake. I have seen this event at a couple of places in the past but the most memorable one before this was at the RSPB reserve Leighton Moss.

From the title, video and pictures you will know that I am talking about murmurations. Anyway, without further ado, here are the facts:
Single starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
  • Murmurations are fabulous displays created by Starlings. Basically they fly around in groups of tens of thousands of birds to scare of predators but more about that later.
  • The reason they do this, as I mentioned above, is to; scare off predators, find a place to roost and exchange information such as good food sources.
Up to 50,000 in two groups - one looks like a tadpole
  • One of the most incredible things about murmurations is that every single Starling knows where to go. People have been wondering how they do this but research suggests that they haven't rehearsed it, they don't say what they are going to do next, oh no. Each Starlings watches each bird around it and watches where it moves. They instantly copy each others moves and them respond to any changes in speed or direction therefore, any one tiny deviation by one bird makes the flock go where that one bird does. They do this by using their incredible reflexes and eventually create an amazing 'feast for the eyes'.
  • They face predators in every murmuration that they do but one of the most common ones is the Peregrine Falcon. I actually saw one of these when I was watching the Murmuration. You can see it in the video below:

  • Roosting begins as early as September but usually October and November. As the weeks go on more and more birds join in the murmuration and there can be as many as 100,000 birds in a single display.
  • They normally occur just before dusk and they usually are over Reedbeds, Woodlands, Cliffs etc. basically places where all of them can roost safely together.
The arrow shows where the Peregrine is.
  • They can create things called murmuration art where all the Starlings create one big picture like a cloud looking like a Crocodile. Some people think that they are forming big animals such as dragons, foxes or even bigger Starlings. In this picture it looks like the starlings are making a big bird shape to scare off the Peregrine. There are more photos below of shapes they made yesterday.
  • It is an example of the mathematical Chaos Theory. I.e larger shapes formed by many smaller patterns, in this case Starlings.

This one looks a bit like a Dodo or penguin,
the Peregrine is the black eye dot
a random shape
Here are some links to some more information:

Hope you enjoyed,


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