Friday, October 23, 2015

Laurie Kuntz writes

A murmuration
of starlings
rivals the full moon

1 comment:

  1. A murmurtion is the patterened floght of starlings, often in suddenly shifting kaleidoscopic choreographies. Starling roosts may number as many as 1 million birds, and occasionally they all get up and stretch out their wings in perfect unison. When the fly they avoid colliding with each other by taking their lead from the bird directly in front of and below them, rather than the birds to the sides or above, and keep a minimum distance from their neighbors proportional to their wing spans. Murmuration flight is based on the same principle that underlies a phase transition of a solid to a liquid. The molecular behavior of a body changes until it reaches a point where it can no longer exist in its current form. It becomes something else. If it is a murmurating starling, it turns in a different direction. The birds observe nearby birds for information. For instancee, if a falcon gives chase waves of faster and more dense birds sweep outward from the predator. The smaller birds that fly close together and have better eyesight move more suddenly and gracefully. Flocks are more dense around the edges and less dense in the center, thus improving their ability to respond to a threat.


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