These Birds Create Stunning Natural Patterns in the Sky

The beauty of nature showcased through starling murmurations.

Dec 15, 2021
These Birds Create Stunning Natural Patterns in the Sky | The beauty of nature showcased through starling murmurations.

As one of our world’s many beautiful sights and wonders, starling murmurations are a spectacle that creates an amazing display in the sky. This natural occurrence, or murmuration, is a result of these birds grouping together and flying as one across the sky just before dusk, creating different patterns and shapes as they soar in the air as a group.

What is a starling?
The starling, or the European starling, is a small to medium-sized bird with a short tail and slender beak. When airbourne, its wings become short, pointed, and look like a four-pointed star. Depending on the weather, its coat will change color from purple and green in the summer to brown with white spots in the winter. 

Even though they are originally from Europe and parts of Asia and Africa, starlings were introduced to North America in the 1890s by Shakespeare fans because of his mention of the species in his literature. 100 starlings were let loose in Central Park in New York City and they have been living in North America ever since. 

All about starling murmurations
Mystery still surrounds this beautiful phenomenon, and many experts remain unsure about why and how these murmurations occur. According to Treehugger, it is believed that a murmuration occurs when one starling copies the behavior of several of its neighbors, then nearby starlings copy their neighbors, and this process continues until they ultimately collectively  create this big group of synchronized movement. 

Treehugger also outlines some of the multiple theories from scientists as to why these murmurations happen, including deterring predators, sharing body heat during cold months, and sharing information about where to find food.  However, it’s still unclear why starling birds create this incredible formation.

Starlings persevere in Denmark
An example of starling murmurations on display is in Denmark, where visitors flock to watch these starlings create these synchronized patterns in the sky.

According to Popular Science, starling populations in Denmark have decreased by 60 percent since 1976. Despite this, the population of starlings still living in Denmark  combines to create their amazing spectacle. Popular Science reports that The Wadden Sea National Park in Denmark provides worms and bugs that attract starlings to the area, making it the perfect place to witness the murmurations. 

It also reports that starling murmurations can be seen in public parks and wildlife refuges, including Central Park in New York City, from where these birds entered North America. 

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Emma is a freelance writer focusing on topics that will positively impact people's lives. She loves history, including the cultural artifacts that reflect it. With an undergraduate degree in English, she is currently working on her Master of Arts in Archaeology.