I have a list of things I would like to see before I exit this world. It’s a small list, and in no particular order. The first item is Redwood forest, because redwoods look amazing. The second is A murmuration of starlings.
What’s a murmuration? Read on:
When starlings flock together, wheeling and darting through the sky in tight, fluid formations, we call it a murmuration. These murmurations can range from small groups of a few hundred starlings in a small ball, to undulating seas of millions of birds, blocking out the sun.
It’s a mesmerizing sight:
Why do starlings create these fantastic formations? Grainger Hunt explains that the spectacles are nearly always the result of a falcon threatening the flock. (Grainger Hunt is senior scientist of the California Condor and Aplomado Falcon restoration projects for The Peregrine Fund.) It’s a defensive movement, explains Hunt, and surprisingly effective:
The frequent failure of the predator to catch a starling, in what seems so easy a situation, is a bit of a mystery. Would not a peregrine swiftly plundering the edges of a flock, or dashing headlong within it, quite easily snag an errant bird? And yet there does not seem to be one. Starlings, we learn, are swift and agile flyers, not easy pickings, all having descended from winners in the acutely discriminating contest of survival and reproduction. Is this not a recipe for fine-tuning? Look at how each performs within the near-perfect fluidity of the formation, and with never the tangling of wings.
Read Hunt’s article at Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds. (It’s a terrific website.)
See more at: The Murmurations of Starlings – In Focus – The Atlantic.
Via: the always interesting Kottke.