Every year during autumn, thousands of starlings put on a spectacular dance show just before dusk over the sky in Scotland (and other countries in the temperate regions), in a breathtaking phenomenon called murmurations. This is when a huge flock of migratory birds form a magical shape-shifting flight pattern in the sky. Murmaration is common among starlings, a small to medium-sized passerine birds in the family Sturnidae, commonly called mynas in Asia. Flocking starlings are one of nature’s most extraordinary sights.
Scientists aren’t sure how they do it. Even complex algorithmic models haven’t yet explained the starlings’ acrobatics, which rely on the tiny bird’s quicksilver reaction time of under 100 milliseconds to avoid aerial collisions—and predators—in the giant flock. The birds tend to flock together for protection and can reach speeds of up to 20 mph.
Vimeo user Sophie Windsor Clive was recently canoeing on the River Shannon in Ireland when she witnessed the beautiful phenomenon.
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