Birds Flocking at sunset is part of nature of the birds is called murmuration. The flocking nature actually benefits the birds. They can protect themselves from hunters, search for their food, keep their bodies warm with the help of murmuration!
Due to advancements in science, we now have the answers to this astounding bird behavior. Actually, this is the nature of humans to move in unison. You may have noticed how people dance together at flash mobs. All of them tap their feet to the same rhythm in a similar way. Similarly, birds also move in unison. There are some obvious reasons behind it.
Helps Them To Locate Food
When the birds move together at sunset at the end of the day, they can share information. In a group, there are thousands of them. Naturally, one bird didn’t stay in the same place as the other the entire day. So, they can inform each other about different sites to find food.
Even when another flock passes by, both can discuss or exchange information on the sources of the feeding sites. The entire group receives some insights about the near and distant sources of food.
Just like us, birds need food to survive.. Think about us humans, how we can gather information about food from each other. So, it is quite understandable that all species of living beings will do the same. In the case of these birds, they have a unique way to do it. This is the beauty of murmuration!
Keeps Them Warm
When you move through a crowd, it’s obvious that you won’t feel cold. The whole group and the presence of other humans around you will keep you warm. Likewise, when birds murmurate, they can feel the warmth. Even if one bird is cold, the heat of the bird next to it will make it feel warm and safe.
Flying at high speeds may not make it seem quite obvious. Nevertheless, one bird can feel the warmth of others around it. Likewise, the next bird also feels the same. Ultimately, each and every member of the flock feels this warmth. Nobody stays cold when they murmurate!
Protects From Predators
It is common sense that you will feel safe if you are with your friends. You have the assurance that even if anybody harms you, the people around you can fight for you using tactics or whatever they have in their possession to save you.
In the same way, when birds move together, they have an invisible linkage. So, if a hunter tries to attack them, the unison of the birds confuses it. The predator fails to target one single bird because the entire group looks just the same to it! This will eventually protect every single member of the flock.
Just observe a single flock yourself, and you will understand this better. The velocity at which the entire flock moves will protect themselves. All birds move in the same direction at the same speed. So, it is difficult for any predator to single out one bird as it all looks the same!
Introduction To Murmuration
The nature of the birds to move together in a particular shape around the sky is called a murmuration. They tend to fly in flocks. It makes us curious how they maintain this shape or how they keep the balance to flock together?
Actually, in such flocks, that is when birds murmurate, one bird is influenced by the direction of the six or seven birds around it. Then, another bird close to it is connected to the other six or seven around it. In this way, ultimately all of them are connected.
The direction of the whole flock is intertwined with each other. So, eventually, the entire congregation moves in one direction.
We know how the cohesive force explains the nature of any liquid where all molecules are, in turn, bonded to each other. This bond maintains the shape of liquid in any container or surface. Likewise, the connection of these birds in flocks can be compared to this cohesive force. Due to their connection with each other, the ultimate shape of the flock is created.
Basically, one bird starts individually. That is to say; the birds start to move individually and join the flock one after one. Later, when there are hundreds or thousands of them, they move as a single unit. They respond to any change or any location altogether as a single group. This is the bewildering fact of murmuration!
Do All Birds Murmurate?
Naturally, the most commonly seen birds that murmurate are the Starlings. But there are other species as well that murmurate. Even so, there are species of birds that do not or even fly!
If you are a resident of North America, you definitely have seen the Starlings flocking at sunset. These tiny adorable birds flock together sometimes in a group of two hundred or maybe a highest of two thousand! The largest flock has been reported to contain millions of Starlings!
Starlings have moved together in groups since time immemorial. It has always benefited them, and they have turned this into bird behavior. Usually, in these groups, the movement of the Starlings is not led by a leader bird or anything. They move as an entire flock.
Besides Starlings, other birds that murmurate are the geese, red knots, flamingos, raptors, dunlins, European honey buzzards, etc. In the groups of these birds, too, the whole flock moves together and is not led by any single bird.
Whatever happens, affects the entire flock in the same way. It’s not like one bird has to pay the price and others just enjoy the fruits of murmuration! Almost all kinds of birds love to murmurate because it will eventually be beneficial for all of them.
However, there are birds like the penguins or the ostriches that do not murmurate. They do not even fly, let alone murmurate! They, of course, like to stay in groups because everybody wants to feel safe, warm, and protected. Everybody needs food to survive. So, even if they do not murmurate in the sky, they can stay in unison on the ground.