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Murmurarions
December 04, 2017
Hi,

So look who is showing everyday, now that Thanksgiving is over.

Another busy week ahead.

My physical, and taking Yolanda to the dentist are the two important ones on the docket.

I need to get some blood work taken care of, and we plan on taking a little on to 'Fredrick Meijer Gardens' to see the Christmas trees from around the world.

The Christmas Trees are always an enjoyable time.

Plus, there is the regular hustle and bustle.

Add to that the holiday season.

You know where I am coming from.

With temperatures well into the 50's (10+ c.) this past weekend, I managed to more the leaves once again and get a few odd tasks taken care of.

Pictured below is the yard on Saturday, and you can see how the Bradford Pear is sill holding onto many of its leaves.

We are in the first full week of December, if you haven't cleaned and sanitized your feeders and water sources yet this month,

This is a good time to do it.

Especially if you live in the north country.

We've had a mild fall on the most part, however the weather promises to change fast and hard, (according to the meteorologists).

Get your outside stuff taken care of in the next couple of days.

I cleaned the cage, and gave the Love birds some sunshine last Thursday.

They sure do attract a crowd.

Some species of birds are given a cool names when they flock together.

For example:

A 'Kettle' of hawks.

A 'Murder' of crows.

A 'Parliament' of owls.

A 'Rafter' of turkeys.

A 'Murmuration' of starlings.

Murmuration?

Here is what the dictionary has to say.

Murmuration (mur-muh-rey-shuhn)

Noun

1. an act or instance of murmuring.

2. a flock of starlings.

Enjoy.

I don't have any pictures, but you can and should Google starling murmurations.

Some fantastic pictures and video are shared online.

It's basically a mass aerial stunt - thousands of birds all swooping and diving in unison.

It's completely breathtaking to witness.

We think that starlings do it for many reasons.

Grouping together offers safety in numbers – predators such as peregrine falcons find it hard to target one bird in the middle of a hypnotizing flock of thousands.

They also gather to keep warm at night and to exchange information, such as good feeding areas.

They gather over their roosting site, and perform their wheeling stunts before they roost for the night.

Autumn roosts usually begin to form in November, though this varies from site to site and some can begin as early as September.

More and more birds will flock together as the weeks go on, and the number of starlings in a roost can swell to around 100,000 in some places.

Early evening, just before dusk, is the best time to see them

You don't need any special equipment as it's all visible by just looking to the skies.

They roost in places that are sheltered from harsh weather and predators, such as woodlands, cliffs, buildings and industrial structures are also used.

During the day, however, they form daytime roosts at exposed places such as treetops and power lines.

Where the birds have good all-round visibility.

I watched a couple of small murmurations just a couple weeks ago in early afternoon.

Time and location aren't written in stone.

But how:

The aerial ballet the birds perform while flocking is mesmerizing to watch.

Almost like a kaleidoscope, changing shapes with every little movement.

But even more fascinating is the science behind how they are capable of such coordinated movement.

Now, I had to do some research for some of this information.

'Mother Nature News' gets the credit for helping me out.

You may have seen starlings gathering in flocks, primarily in the fall.

Mass quantities gathered along the side of a road, or park, grazing and chatting away.

Near evening they take flight.

As starlings gather in the evenings to roost, often they will participate in what is called a murmuration β€” a huge flock that shape-shifts in the sky as if it were one swirling liquid mass.

Sometimes the behavior is sparked by the presence of a predator like a hawk peregrine falcon, and the flock's movement is based on evasive maneuvers.

Some pictures and video support this, but a vast amount of murmurations, I believe is this:

There is safety in numbers, so the individual starlings do not scatter.

They are able to move as an intelligent cloud, feinting away from a diving raptor, thousands of birds changing direction almost simultaneously.

I think the birds are having some fun and simply showing off, because they can.

Just like the Red-tailed hawks I watch catching up drafts and soar in the wind.

The question that has had scientists stumped is how a bird, tens or hundreds of birds away from those nearest danger, sense the shift and move in unison?

The secret lies in the same systems that apply to anything on the cusp of a shift, like snow before an avalanche.

where the velocity of one bird affects the velocity of the rest.

It is called "scale-free correlation" and every shift of the murmuration is called a critical transition.

I know, I had to read that a couple more time myself.

Okay.....

Because the size of the flock doesn't matter, a huge flock is able to respond to a predator attack, or other movement, as effectively and fluidly as a small flock.

No matter the size, the system works.

If one bird changes speed or direction, so do others.

The question remains, however, how does an individual bird spark a change if all are busy responding to the movement of everyone else?

And more importantly, how do they do it so incredibly quickly?

Now here is where more science and technology come in.

A 2010 study looked at velocity, but this time they studied orientation.

By slowing down video, and measuring how a change in direction by one bird affects those around it, it was discovered that one bird's movement only affects its seven closest neighbors.

So one bird affects its seven closest neighbors, and each of those neighbors' movements affect their closest seven neighbors and on through the flock.

This is how a flock is able to look like a twisting, morphing cloud with some parts moving in one direction at one speed and other parts moving at another direction and at another speed.

Why seven?

Experts have this to say.

Seven, it's one of those numbers that just works in nature, and a systems-theoretic approach to studying starling flocks showed it.

"Interacting with six or seven neighbors optimizes the balance between group cohesiveness and individual effort,"

The number seven is a pretty important number to our 'Creator' as well.

A coincidence?

I think not.

In a nutshell, this is how those wonderful shapes and designs are created, we see in the evening skies this time of year.

A side note:

The European starling population is on the rise, and indeed thriving in North America.

In some cases the birds are beneficial, and entertaining.

They are best known for the destruction and aggressive behavior to out native birds.

The starling population has fallen by over 80% in recent years, meaning they are now on the critical list of UK and other parts of Europe where they are native.

These birds most at risk.

The decline is believed to be due to the loss of permanent pasture, increased use of farm chemicals and a shortage of food and nesting sites in many parts of the UK.

(I would love to ship them back.)

Sounds like many of the issues we have here with our native birds.

Shrinking habitat, chemicals, and invasive species.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

β€œDon't give the people what they want,

give them something better.”

Sam Rothafel, Entertainment pioneer.

Sam was talking about entertaining an audience,

God is talking about something a bit better.

"Since God had planned something better for us

so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

Hebrews 11:40

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb.

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson



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