Fascinating to watch and ponder…
Revealed: The mystery behind starling flocks
The mystery behind the movements of flocking starlings could be explained by the areas of light and dark created as they fly, new research suggests.
The research, conducted by the University of Warwick and published in the journal PNAS, found that flocking starlings aim to maintain an optimum density at which they can gather data on their surroundings. This occurs when they can see light through the flock at many angles, a state known as marginal opacity. The subsequent pattern of light and dark, formed as the birds attempt to achieve the necessary density, is what provides vital information to individual birds within the flock.
The dynamic pattern of light and dark is created by birds within the flock altering the positions and angles at which they fly, causing a change in the amount of light let into the flock. The researchers observed that it was always possible to see areas of light coming through the flock, providing the initial insight that the changing patterns of light and dark had a role to play in the flock’s movement.
Animal magic: A flock of starlings morphs into a giant dog as it descends on Gretna, Scotland, for the winter