From the last of the December pictures…
I was out at our farm, Meadowbrook, and was hearing a great racket of chitterings, squeaking and chortling followed by vast winged movement. The sun was setting. There were clouds of birds in silhouette across the road in the Catalpa trees and maples flying back and forth and opposite directions. I thought a picture of the birds in the trees would be interesting to examine as a flock deconstructs into individuals at rest.
I imagine we’ve all seen giant flocks of starlings over the fields. In the yard, there often are mixed groups of grackles and cowbirds with the starlings and blackbirds poking around in the grass in certain seasons. I’m not sure why it is the more disliked pest species that are choosing to gather together, but there you go. They must recognize some similar attitude in one another. Hail fellow reprobate! At least they do eat a lot of grubs and insects.
Naturalists say that this flocking instinct is one of self preservation as the outside birds seek the inside of the mass for protection. Many eyes are more likely to find food. Apparently in flocks an uplift is provided from birds in front to those behind so that they can expend less energy and fly further with less fatigue.
Here’s a short video of fascinating “murmurations” which is a word meaning “thousands of starlings flying together” forming patterns.