Starlings flock over Lauwersmeer National Park, Netherlands
© Frans Lemmens/Alam
Moving as one
After the nesting and breeding seasons of spring and summer have passed, starlings become highly social birds, often gathering in flocks that number in the thousands. These flocks sometimes take the form of a murmuration—when the birds form a group large and dense enough that they appear to move together as a single organism, even if the movements seem arbitrary. Though scientists still don't quite understand how the individual starlings in a murmuration coordinate their tight, fluid formations, the behaviour is thought to be a way to confuse predators.
Imagine if you're a falcon on the hunt and you see a small group of starlings—an easy meal if you catch one. But if the starlings spot the predator first, they may form a murmuration, swooping and diving as one, making it difficult for the falcon to isolate and hunt an individual starling.