No, not a line from The Pixies. Liberty Smith and Sophie Windsor Clive will ensnare you in the majesty of this chance encounter with “one of nature’s greatest and most fleeting phenomena” — a collection of starlings rolling over a kayak canoe on a lake.

Editor’s note: In the comments below, Maureen Doallas reminded me of two spots where I first heard about starling murmurations and thought I’d share them with you: Paolo Patrizi’s magnificent photos of murmurations over Rome and a BBC documentary. Both are definitely checking out.

Hat tip to Anne Breckbill for the heads up!

Share Your Reflection



I saw this video this morning on a friend's site. The murmuration is extraordinary. And what a wonderful word that is!

It truly is, isn't it? I first remember reading the term when viewing Paolo Patrizi's magnificent photos of murmurations over Rome and then hearing it spoken in this BBC documentary sometime last year. Just magnificent.

Beautiful isn't even the word for this: it's transporting into wonder.  I used to kayak on Puget Sound in NW USA and experienced something similar with huge flocks of terns flying in close formation, sometimes skimming the water and dividing around my boat.  The feeling of delight was intense, and this video brings it to life again in my memory.  I spent many wonderful hours on the water in my small, quiet kayak, and much enchantment, with creatures whose lives I might never have had any insight into other wise.  Thank you so much for this reminder. 

Oh, I would live to witness the picture you just painted. Thank you!

Inspiring! Each time I see a flock of birds or a school of fish move as if one, I am reminded of that possibility for humanity if we could only discard our conflicting efforts to fill the void and allow the reemergence of the innate "ideal", humanity murmuring in unison.

Fabulous!  Are we truly not small?  Let's get over ourselves!

It's not exactly "an innate ideal" of nature. It's competition for survival. According to an article about this video on the Huffington Post:
This mesmerizing act is typically seen at the beginning of winter, right before dusk, as the birds look for a place to roost for the night. "Numbers build up slowly near the roost over the afternoon as small groups of birds return from foraging in the area,” explains Paul Stancliffe of the British Trust for Ornithology. “By late afternoon there is a huge swirling cloud. It’s all about safety in numbers – none wants to be on the outside, none wants to be first to land.” Essentially it's an epic battle to determine who in the flock survives, and who's a target for predators. According to the Telegraph, each bird tries to copy the bird next to it exactly, which results in a stunning rippling effect.

First, thanks for the explanations. All very interesting for understanding what we're seeing. Second, who are you quoting when you write "an innate ideal"? Starlings in and of themselves are viewed as invasive species, I realize, but the phenomenon of what we're seeing is really quite lovely but not necessary a matter of ideal.

This explanation reminds me of something I read once - probably in a "channeled" book - that informed the reader that, although lovely when seen above ground, the roots of plants and trees are actually aggressively crowding one another, battling for space and water.


That was incredible but I would love to watch the video without the bad music...just the natural sound

Starlings are special creatures. I found out recently that starlings have the capacity to learn language - like parrots. I know someone who has both and his starling speaks more clearly than the parrots. Go to youtube and look up talking starling.....:-)

You've got to be kidding me. And here our show this week is about the unfolding nature of language in humans...

Very beautiful and poetic. There was no better ending, after the waves of sweeping birds across the sky, over and over, than that of the girl turning to camera with an amazed laugh.

Awesome, It is indeed a breathtaking music, I love it ........