Nature Diary: A murmuration of starlings

Thousands of starlings swirling through the skies is one of nature’s most wonderful sights

The best time to see a murmuration is just before dusk on a fine, cold winter evening. Photograph: Getty Images

The best time to see a murmuration is just before dusk on a fine, cold winter evening. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Starling murmurations are among nature’s most wonderful sights. Made up of hundreds to thousands of starlings swirling through the skies together, the murmurations occur just before the starlings swoop down and settle into their roost for the night.

Starlings form these large groups both to protect themselves against predators and to keep warm on winter evenings. Bird-watching experts (known as birders) have discovered that each starling follows the movement of six or seven other birds flying closest to them so if one bird changes speed, the others follow suit.

This ripples through the murmuration and means that they are able to fly at speeds of around 32km/h without crashing into each other in mid air.

Although their numbers have declined hugely in recent years, starlings continue to roost in sheltered spots in woodland, on cliffs and buildings. The best time to see a murmuration is just before dusk on a fine, cold winter evening.

See birdwatchireland.ie 

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.