What a wonderful word murmuration is. And what a spectacular sight it is to stand below a murmuration of starlings in the last hour or so before dusk, as their band of shadows writhes its way across the sky in perfect precision.
We are incredibly lucky to be witness to this spectacle most days here, as the starlings gather, and their burgeoning collective sweeps from tree to tree, barn roof to barn roof: no bird wanting to be the first to land, the last to land, on the outside edge of the group…
The noise of such a large group of birds is also rather startling – and not just as they chatter in the treetops. One afternoon last week, as the birds gathered mass about us, they suddenly plummeted like a black sheet from their temporary roost in the tree that stands across from our house, onto the grass below.
Every few seconds, the line of birds on the leftmost edge of the group would lift their wings and skate over their neighbours to land a few feet further in, leaving others on the outer edge. With each such progression there was a mighty whoomp sound from the collective of wings so briefly employed in unison. Amazing.
I hastily snatched these pictures from a bedroom window one afternoon last week, but they don’t quite do justice to the majesty of this phenomenon. Must try harder!