The birds in this video may look scary from far away, more or less resembling the swarms of angry bees from childhood cartoons that maliciously arrange themselves in arrows of bulls-eyes to poke fun at the poor protagonist. The movements of these birds, called starlings, are so graceful and entrancing that their murmurations create one of nature’s greatest spectacles. These expert choreographers have fascinated naturalists and biologists for centuries who try and figure out how the birds can maneuver around each other in perfect synchrony while producing a stunning display of aerial acrobatics. Some even almost jokingly speculate that flocks of starlings were capable of “thought transference” or “telepathy”, ensuring that each bird is in synch with the others.
Lately, empirical evidence has been gathered to explain the arrangement of these birds. Scientists have discovered that flocks pack more tightly in the center than at the edges, making it easier for birds on the perimeter to take turns flying in the front, sides and back. When the birds limit the time they spend at the edges of the flock, they minimize their risk of being killed since hawks and peregrine falcons usually attack the perimeter where they are the most vulnerable.
Watch this video to see if you can determine any pattern in the birds’ agile movements.