[Inspiration] Otherworldly Images Of The Phenomenon Known As A Murmuration

When I had first seen this video a few months ago, I was left in utter disbelief. Growing up on the east coast of the United States, I'd never seen anything like it. Every year in certain areas of Europe, thousands upon thousands of starlings gather in what is known as a murmuration; their movement resembling that of a school of fish swimming through the air. While this video is not the most technically amazing video you've ever seen, it's the content, not the medium, that is important here. Check out the video and a jaw-dropping collection of photos inside.

For the most part, I'd forgotten about my European avian friends in the months following my first viewing of this video. But a recent flickr blog post reminded me of the phenomenon.  These images, created by various flickr users, are just as inspiring as the above video.  The only comparison that I can draw here is to that of the aurora borealis or australis, yet it seems as if we can reach out and touch the birds when it happens right above our heads. Check out the photos - and if you live in Europe, or anywhere that this awesome sight occurs, why aren't you burning up your memory cards shooting this? It seems as if images of this are pretty rare, and I'd love to know - is it a very rare event, or is it just so common that people don't pay much attention to it?



Starling flock over Brighton Pier
Starlings in Suffolk

Starlings at Gretna, Scotland

Starling flock at dusk

Starling Roost


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Love how the girls laugh in wonder at the end.

I misread the excerpt and was waiting for the "fishes" to plonk back into the water :D

I've seen a murmuration before, but had no idea what it was called.  It was in Princeton NJ though so....not sure it's exclusive to Europe.  I was driving and spotted it.  Immediately I was like..."whoa!" I had never seen that before.  It reminded me of all of the bats taking shape at the opening of Batman Begins.   Was truly amazing to see.   So, this video/post was cool as well as educational.  

 In Denmark it is called Sort Sol, or in english Black Sun :)

Kim K Sorensen's picture

It's a quite amazing phenomenon, that happens every spring and fall in Denmark. Especially in the southern part of our country. Sometimes there can be as much as a million birds. And actually I think it is just about that time now, I think it is from the end of March to the end of April it happens. Guess I oughta go........ :-)

Andrew Knies-Photographer's picture

The only thing I can think of us how I wouldn't want to be under that.  The odds of bird droppings landing on your head seem astronomical!

In California we call it a shitload of birds

Kenneth Barker's picture

 <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/kenny_barker/5207753545/" title="STARLINGS (we are one) by kenny barker, on Flickr" rel="nofollow"></a>
The Gretna starling display
The birds congregate at sunset, first in small groups and then in
larger clusters, to form a mass of over one million birds creating
elaborate shapes and patterns in the sky. Raptors such as sparrowhawks
and peregrine falcons make an appearance to try and pick off a bird
for supper. After an aerobatic display lasting for about 20 minutes,
the starlings move towards a conifer plantation where they roost for
the night.
It is a spectacle that occurs only during the winter and, until
earlier this year, scientists were puzzled as to how exactly the birds
were able to fly with such simultaneous precision.They have since discovered that each bird tracks seven others,
irrespective of their distance, which is how they stick
together.British starling numbers are thought to have halved to four
million in recent years, due in part to a declining insect
population.But their gatherings – or murmurations – are boosted in the
autumn by tens of millions escaping chillier Russia and Scandinavia,
making this the best time of year to see them.

I'm not a huge following of wildlife photography but this is breathtaking.