Today’s Solutions: November 30, 2021

Those who are lucky enough to witness a starling murmuration know exactly how transfixing and hypnotic it can be to be in the presence of such a magical natural phenomenon.

A starling is a small to medium-sized bird that has a short tail, pointed head, and glossy black feathers with hints of purple and green. When huge flocks of starlings fly together in the sky, they can create a “murmuration,” which is when the birds begin to twist and turn as though they were one creature, making a number of different shapes and forms.

The mechanics behind this transfixing sky show are still a mystery to experts, however, it is believed that a murmuration forms when one starling begins to copy the behavior of its seven neighbors, and then those seven starlings being copying seven of their own neighbors, until the entire group appears to be moving as one entity.

Why do starling murmurations form?

Perhaps the best comparison for a starling murmuration within the natural world is a school of fish that moves as one to avoid predators.

Starling murmurations are most commonly spotted at sundown because the birds often produce a synchronized cloud of movement over the location where they have decided to roost for the night. One primary hypothesis is that a murmuration can attract more starlings that are nearby, which is important for creating a warmer roosting spot, especially in the colder months.

Scientists also believe that starling murmurations are used to deter large predators from attacking, as moving as one will confuse the predator and decrease the individual risk each starling faces.

While these hypotheses have some credibility to them, the driving forces behind murmurations are still unclear to scientists and researchers.

When and where do starling murmurations occur?

Starling murmurations happen most often in the UK, but the starling population has grown significantly in the US since they were introduced into the country in the late 1800s.

Currently, there are an estimated 150 million starlings in the US.

If you want to spot a starling murmuration, your best chance would be at sundown before they settle to roost.

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

Popcorn may be the next sustainable building material

Popcorn is more than just a tasty snack to munch on while at the movies—it may soon be widely used as a natural and eco-friendly alternative to man made home insulation. Scientists at Göttingen University ... Read More

Want to get students engaged? Consider career-based classes

Students who are engaged in the classroom are more likely to participate and retain more information, but what exactly keeps kids engaged? Researchers from Ohio State University surveyed 20,000 high school students across the US ... Read More

This 3D-printed eye is an eye-conic development for digital prosthetics

According to Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, Steve Verze, a 47-year-old engineer from Hackney, has been the fortunate recipient of the world’s first 3D printed eyeball. He first tried the eye on for size earlier ... Read More

Senegal’s only circus troupe helps homeless children get off the streets

Senegal has exactly one circus troupe: Sencirk—and it was founded by a former child beggar named Modou Touré. Before taking his place as ringmaster of his own circus, Touré, at the age of seven, was ... Read More

New breakthroughs in nutrient-sensing cells

Did you know immune cells can sense nutrients? A new study from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has identified the biological mechanism behind the phenomenon. The type of immune cells with these special abilities are ... Read More

How to stay warm this winter during outdoor social gatherings

Temperatures are dipping and snowflakes are falling, but that doesn’t mean we have to say goodbye to our outdoor social gatherings. Plus, it might not always be safe to gather indoors, and everyone will have ... Read More