A murmuration of starlings, as this phenomenon is known, must be one of the most magical, yet underrated, wildlife spectacles in winter. Winging at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour, an entire flock of birds can make hairpin turns in an instant.
In the coastal wetlands of southwestern Denmark, where some starling flocks in spring can number more than a million, locals term their late-afternoon displays “black sun” because they literally darken the sky.
One writer says, “In murmuration, each bird strives to fly as close to its neighbors as possible, instantly copying any changes in speed or direction. As a result, tiny deviations by one bird are magnified and distorted by those surrounding it, creating rippling, swirling patterns.”
Some feel it is a maneuver to avoid a predator such as an attacking hawk.
And whoever thought of the word murmuration, anyway? It comes from the Middle English – ‘the act of murmuring: the utterance of low continuous sounds or complaining noises.’
You can experience the sometimes low and sometimes deafening murmuring in the video.
These images were taken at Gretna on the Scottish borders on November 1, 2011. This brought tears to my eyes. As you watch this chance encounter with one of the Creator’s greatest and most fleeting displays, may your mind be renewed and your heart filled with a desire to praise our awesome God today!
Now I keep my eyes ever heavenward in late fall and winter hoping to witness this very cool event. Maybe you will be inspired by one this winter, too!
“For the beauty of the earth,
For the beauty of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies,
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This our grateful hymn of praise.”
~Words by Folliot S. Pierpoint, 1835-1917 The Song and the Story
Queens College, Cambridge University
“I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in. ” ~George Washington Carver
Thanks for reading!