The flight of starlings

Do you look up in the sky from time to time? If so, what do you tend to see?

I do it several times a day and I observe birds, weather patterns, the blue sky, rain drops, lightning, insects, sometimes a plastic bag :-(, clouds, fog, sun rays, sunset colours, airplanes, the moon, Mars, Venus, stars. It is so fascinating to see what’s going on above my head, and I love that wide and open space. In autumn it may be even more worthy to look up, because it is the season when migratory birds gather in huge numbers before they leave for their winter home. Some do it as early as July. The common swift – one of my all-time favourite – normally leaves Switzerland around the end of July and beginning of August. The alpine swift luckily stays almost two months longer and they always fly close to my home. Just before they are about to leave, the flocks are the biggest, probably several hundreds animals strong. For me it feels like as if they come to say goodbye.

The alpine swift, by the way, is “my” bird and therefore flies in my logo and copyright. Naturally, its belly is white, for a more calm look we chose to blacken it. My dear soulsister is the wonderful creator. I am one lucky Lady Bird 🙏🏼.

But hey, doesn’t it say “starling” in the title? Of course, it does!

Now, have you seen how the starlings fly in flocks lately? They started gathering in bigger numbers in August and do so until about now with flocks growing in numbers as new families join the flock. It is mind-boggling. Then they fly all together in a mesmerising manner also known as murmuration. Every bird watches its neighbour and flies in that same direction with the flock not having a single bird leading the way like other species who fly in a so called v-formation (such as geese, storks, and cormorants). How they really manage to do this without bumping into each other is still a misery.

What is sure, is, that they find safety in numbers. A bird of prey has a very hard time to catch a single bird from a flock of a thousand starlings, and if attacking to keep the focus on a single one.

Luckily, I could push the record button of my phone when a flock awesomely manoeuvred within my view in Lavaux.

This was just a “little” flock compared to the ones you can observe in other places. The following video taken in the Netherlands by Jan van Jiken and showcased on the National Geographic Youtube channel will make your jaws drop even more, and if you listen carefully, you will find out why this indescribable performance is called murmuration. The two-minute video could as well go as a meditation…

Starling murmuration

It is a dream of mine to witness such a several minute long murmuration with my own eyes and ears one day. Already I am grateful for what I have seen so far.

Have you seen something like this? Please let me know in the comments.

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