Murmurations: Spectacular Starlings Signal Winter Is On Its Way

Owen Humphreys—PA/Landov
Owen Humphreys—PA/Landov
The following images in this gallery are of a murmuration of starlings arriving at Gretna in the Scottish Borders on November 1, 2011.

No one knows why they do it. Yet each fall, thousands of starlings dance in the twilight above Gretna, Scotland. The birds gather in magical shape-shifting flocks called murmurations, having migrated in the millions from Russia and Scandinavia to escape winter’s bite. Scientists aren’t sure how they do it, either. 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. Despite their show of force in the dusky sky, starlings have declined significantly in the UK in recent years, perhaps because of a drop in nesting sites. The birds still roost in several of Britain’s rural pastures, however, settling down to sleep (and chatter) after the evening’s ballet.

Related Topics: , , , , , ,

Latest Posts

Lorena Ros

Powerful Photos of Child Sex Abuse Survivors

Photographer Lorena Ros survived sexual abuse, now her newest project highlights the strength and dignity of other survivors.

Read More
David smoking a cigarette outside his house.

Life Inside a Community of Sex Offenders

Some 200 towers, like these in Ushguli—built mainly from the 9th into the 13th centuries for shelter during wars, raids, and blood feuds—remain in Svaneti. Now they’re used to store hay and grain for farm animals, including pigs.

Photojournalism Links Daily Digest: Sept. 16, 2014

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 16,313 other followers