Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Murmuration

Is there a word in the English language lovelier than murmuration? It’s one of nature's most phenomenal sights: the incredibly beautiful group behavior of thousands of starlings swishing and swooping together like one living, breathing entity. Why do starlings gather in these odd flash mobs?

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. It’s actually a survival function. Numbers build up slowly near the roost, and by late afternoon there is a huge swirling, living cloud. Essentially, it's an epic battle to determine who in the flock survives, and who's a target for predators. It’s all about safety in numbers — none want to be on the outside and none want to be first to land. Each bird tries to copy the bird next to it exactly, which results in a stunning rippling effect with uncanny coordination that biologists don’t yet understand.  

Survival can be a gloriously beautiful thing. And starlings may be the most visible example of the beauty that can happen when we work together. 

2 comments:

Kat Mortensen said...

Did you see the video on YouTube with the murmuration of starlings over a lake in Ireland? It was stunning!
It reminded me of a giant magnet pulling metal filings across the sky.

Happy New Year Peggy!

I'm back blogging on Invisible Keepsakes poetikat-km.blogspot.com AND I have a new photo-blog here:

mylittletownont.blogspot.com

Come and visit me!

Peggy said...

Kat! How's everything? How's the new house? Have missed you!

You asked about the starling video on YouTube. That's what inspired this post, actually! I was enthralled by it.

I'm so glad you're back on the blog. I'll check it out, as well as your photo blog, this afternoon.

Hope 2012 is happy, healthy, and prosperous for you!