My life is about living with nature – here you can live it with me!

Murmuration of Starlings

Starlings Through the Fence
A Murmuration of Starlings

What is a Murmuration of Starlings? It really isn’t much except being a fancy way to describing a group of European Starlings that you might find together. The Encarta Dictionary says; mur•mu•ra•tion (noun) 1. murmuring – an act or sound of murmuring 2. starlings collectively – a flock of starlings! Many other critters have different names for describing there group gatherings. . . . here are a few my favorite examples; “a cloud of gnats”, “a walk of snipe” and “a band of gorillas”!! I wonder if the gorillas have hippy gorillas or monkeys who follow them from gig to gig??

European Starling
European Starlings Flying Together

This post regarding a Murmuration of Starlings started after a high school classmate of mine (Lisa) sent me a message that she “captured a bird video that she wanted me to see”! She let her dog out in the early morning (Friday, 11 Jan 2008) and saw all these birds up in the trees (then captured this video with her camera)! She told me that “her dog didn’t know what to think”! I will let Lisa’s video speak for itself!

I am not 100% sure at this point if she had captured a huge Murmuration of Starlings or a huge flock of blackbirds in her back yard?? But, I am strongly learning towards the Starlings! I remember as a kid a few hundred starlings gathering in my neighbor’s spruce trees and making a huge racket (similar to this video). Just before dusky the Starlings would fly together to there night-time roost and then suddenly stop making sounds as if it was a power switch!! It was amazing to see this event each evening and that was a time period when I wasn’t a birder. I can only imagine how Lisa felt when seeing these thousands and thousands of birds in her back yard (in Baltimore Maryland). I greatly appreciate that Lisa allowed me to use this video in my post and maybe if they return she could capture another clip of them?? Thanks Lisa!

Starlings in the tree!
European Starlings in a Tree

RSS feed Subscribe to Mon@rch All Rights Reserved ©2006-2008

33 responses

  1. Love, love, love those funny collective names for animals! My favorite birds are the Unkindness of Ravens! That’s what I regularly call them when they fly away just as I get my camera out. Unkind creatures!

    14 January 2008 at 6:54 pm

  2. I saw our first starlings of the season on Sunday. They generally leave here in late August and then return in the winter (!?) YouTube has some pretty impressive video clips of starling murmurations in Europe and they look similar to the one you have posted.

    14 January 2008 at 7:07 pm

  3. A flock of starlings is a good guess for an urban area. Common grackles also gather in flocks like that, but the birds in the video seemed a bit shorter-tailed.

    14 January 2008 at 7:13 pm

  4. Gosh, Mon@rch, what a nightmare! Starlings are definitely my LEAST FAVORITE bird and seeing that many in my yard would make me crazy. I know they’re really smart and some people actually like them, but not me.

    14 January 2008 at 7:16 pm

  5. I’m with RuthieJ!

    14 January 2008 at 7:56 pm

  6. Lisa at Greenbow

    I can’t stand Starlings either. During that warm spell a few days ago they were already trying to claim all the nesting holes at the park we frequent while the red headed woodpeckers voiced their displeasure at the Starlings return.

    Starlings have their place…in Europe where they came from. Ditto on the House Sparrows.

    On a happier note…we had our first flock of Robins in the garden today. About 10 of them looking for something to eat. The poor dears had to move on I am sure. All of the berries have been eaten from my garden. I must get to planting more this year.

    14 January 2008 at 8:01 pm

  7. lvn600

    Nice friend to capture video for you! I am mesmerized when seeing large flocks of birds.-Starlings sure can wipe out my suet quickly though.

    14 January 2008 at 8:54 pm

  8. Tom


    We had a starling slam into our window yesterday. It breathed a few times and was gone. Upon picking it up with a shovel and looking at it closely, it was amazingly beautiful. Purples, greens, and oranges were flecked all over. Too bad they are pests!


    14 January 2008 at 9:02 pm

  9. @ Liz – thanks and I just knew you would be rooting for the Ravens!
    @ Ruth – not sure about your first video but do love the one with the falcon! I have see many of there post but try to avoid youtube!
    @ John – I didn’t think they were grackles but agree with it being a urban area! I did have something in my post about it being in the city but edited it out! Sounds also made me think Starling!
    @ Ruthie – Would it be such a nightmare if they just roosted in the trees and didn’t land in the yard (or feeder?)! Not that I like them though! They are interesting for sure!
    @ Barb – LOL! Great to see you, when you going to post something?
    @ Lisa – LOL but everyone still comments on a post that I have about them! 🙂 They have been nesting in the worse areas with great birds being hurt! Do love that the robins have returned! Can’t wait to see mine around!
    @ Lvn – I have wonderful friends for sure! Even better when they are willing to give me stuff to blog about!
    @ Tom – they are very pretty birds and I do love there colors! But, they can go back to there home area!

    14 January 2008 at 10:01 pm

  10. When I lived in CA we planted winter oats in our field to harvest the next spring for the horses. We just barely had the seed in the ground and the starlings (I believe that’s what they were as they looked just like the birds in the video the way they’d swarm) were on the ground eating it all. I ran out waving my arms and tried to chase them out but it was futile as they’d just come back. We had a skimpy crop the next spring.

    15 January 2008 at 12:10 am

  11. What a neat video Lisa took! Scary!
    Starlings are too aggressive for me, they attack each other at my suet cage and bully my woodpeckers 😦

    15 January 2008 at 12:34 am

  12. pwrbrdr

    It is tough to tell, I would lean towards mostly starlings with maybe some cowbirds, redwings, and it looked like a small amount could have be grackles – darker and bigger looking – but too hard to tell from the video. I am only getting static and a little sound, but I know that a large blackbird flock sounds very similiar to a large starling flock.

    My favorite bird group is a murder of crows.

    15 January 2008 at 5:43 am

  13. I hope they were heading in a northern direction! Starlings are driving me and my backyard birds crazy with their awful cat-calling and bullying behavior.

    15 January 2008 at 6:03 am

  14. I always heard that a flock of ravens was called a “murder”, which I thought was appropriate. Other bird groups that I know of:
    Chain of Bobolinks
    Cover of Coots
    Gulp of Cormorants
    Herd of Curlews
    Fling of Dunlin
    Cast of Falcons
    Flamboyance of Flamingos (could it be anything else?)
    Gaggle of Geese
    Charm of Goldfinches
    Brace of Grouse
    Kettle of Hawks
    Parliament of Owls
    Muster of Turkeys

    15 January 2008 at 8:41 am

  15. Hi Mon@rch,
    I only have small flocks (12-20 starlings) but they all fly in together and roost in the crabapple trees to feast on the remaining fruit. If I’m at home and see that, I still go out and scare them away. (Yup, I’m a Zero Tolerance Starling Meany!)
    The only good thing I can say about them is that they do a good picking insects out of my lawn in the spring and summer (I do allow them to do that much–but stay the heck away from my bluebird and martin houses, OK?)

    15 January 2008 at 9:23 am

  16. Neat! We have had just one female red winged BB at the feeders….but lots and lots of starlings.

    15 January 2008 at 9:54 am

  17. We get flocks of starlings in late winter but they stay in the trees only a short while. My dog likes to run in the woods barking which scares them off. The sound of their wings in flight is neat. I’m glad they don’t stay around.

    15 January 2008 at 10:41 am

  18. Starlings are one of my favorite birds – they’re beautiful, are great mimics, and help get rid of all the grubs in my lawn!

    15 January 2008 at 10:54 am

  19. I remember once a huge flock of starlings alit all over mom’s property. I had to bring her out to look–it was like Hitchcock’s “The Birds.” Haven’t seen one here in Louisiana yet.

    15 January 2008 at 11:26 am

  20. @ Erie – I bet they love those seeds! They can be evil like that!
    @ Chicago – thanks and they do love suet!
    @ pwrbrdr – Not sure I could see what you are seeing with those sizes! I was thinking they were showing DOF with making size hard to judge! Although, wouldn’t surprise me if a few other birds were mixed in!
    @ Mary – I think they were heading to your back yard! LOL
    @ Marty – those are great!
    @ Ruthie – We see them in the hundreds but understand the zero tolerance! I only wish the screech owls eat them out of my boxes!
    @ Threcollie – I bet you do have many starlings at the farm!
    @ Joan – I bet you don’t get mad when the dog chases them! LOL
    @ Sherri – they are very good mimics and I know others who have kept them as pets!
    @ Lana – It is amazing to watch when there are so many of them!

    15 January 2008 at 12:23 pm

  21. pwrbrdr

    Could be morning eyesight too, it was a little blurry, maybe it was wishful thinking.

    15 January 2008 at 5:52 pm

  22. A murmuration of startling. Ya learn something new every day. Too bad I’ll probably forget it by tomorrow. (Sigh)

    Thankful we don’t have starlings.

    16 January 2008 at 2:36 am

  23. Well, I’ve added to my vocabulary today, beginning with ‘murmuration’ and then adding several that Marty posted, too.

    16 January 2008 at 3:15 am

  24. winterwoman

    I’ve read (and observed) that especially in winter you are apt to see mixed flocks. So I’m betting the mostly starling flock had some other black birds in there, too… just as chickadees, nuthatches, kinglets, and juncos are often seen foraging together in the woods…

    Any snow in the park yet?

    16 January 2008 at 5:46 am

  25. The flocks that we have around here are mostly starlings with some odd red-winged blackbirds and common grackles thrown in for good measure. And they will go through birdseed like a horde of locusts…

    16 January 2008 at 9:41 am

  26. @ John – Morning-afternoon-night I think this video is tough all around!
    @ Marvin – just wait, they will find you!
    @ Bobbie – thanks and there are many good ones out there! Thanks
    @ Jen – hard to say for sure but it is very interesting looking! We did get some what a dusting but not much to go XC Skiing!

    16 January 2008 at 1:04 pm

  27. Marg

    I looked at my window this afternoon and saw a mini version of this-but with two American crows too-I love Crows and don’t see them much!

    16 January 2008 at 7:24 pm

  28. Thought you might find this page interesting – a VERY complete listing of the groupings of birds: Collective Nouns for Birds

    17 January 2008 at 10:20 am

  29. I’m with Lisa….I would LOVE to see starlings and HOSP in EUROPE.
    Geoff and I actually took pictures of some “real” starlings at Stonehenge (before I was a birder) and we thought, “what pretty birds”. Now I throw shoes at them when they are eating my Zick Dough.

    18 January 2008 at 11:51 pm

  30. Grace

    Starlings nest on my porch and poop on my screen door! Ick!!

    19 January 2008 at 1:00 am

  31. i love starlings. they have beautiful colors on their wings and body.
    i also love blackbirds and crows.
    i have seen this flight in blackbirds as well as the starlings.
    it makes my heart skip a beat because
    i love it so much..

    19 January 2008 at 1:42 am

  32. simpkins

    I was just wondering if anyone knows what the starlings could be eating in our back yard this time of year, they fly in by the hundreds and just peck away eating something.

    27 January 2009 at 10:22 pm

    • John Stephenson

      I can,t understand anyone not liling starlings, they have a lovely rainbow shimmer on their plummage, not mentionthe fantastic aerial displays where they all twist and turn as if electronically connected

      22 June 2010 at 7:11 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s