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The startling murmurations of starlings

Saturday, 2 December, 2017

Jan van IJken is a filmmaker from the Netherlands and the relatively warm winter of 2015 gave him a rare opportunity to observe the “murmurations” of Sturnus vulgaris, the common starling, because the birds stayed in the Netherlands instead of migrating southwards. A “murmuration” is a mass aerial stunt with thousands of birds swooping and diving in unison and these mysterious flights create one of the world’s most spectacular natural phenomena. Theories about murmuration suggest that by grouping together the starlings create safety in numbers so that predators such as falcons find it hard to target one bird in the middle of a flock of thousands. It’s also possible that the gatherings help the birds to exchange information.


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