Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Starling Murmuration

Videos of flocks of starlings in flight have gone viral. They feature a stunning example of collective behavior known as a starling murmuration. These aerial spectacles can be seen at dusk, when starlings flock together and seem to move as one. A murmuration can be made up of a few hundred to tens of thousands of birds.

starling picture
What makes them mesmerizing is the strong coherence and extremely synchronized movements of the starlings. Scientists have recently determined that starlings in murmurations coordinate their movements with their seven nearest neighbors.
When one bird changes speed or direction, all the other birds in the vicinity respond in kind, and they do so nearly simultaneously. In this way, information spreads across the flock rapidly.
These graceful ballets are often responses to an approaching predator like a hawk, but also seem to occur spontaneously. Perhaps the starlings find their behavior as beautiful as we do.
The above post is a portion of an article by Mary Bates copied from the National Geographic.