Murmuration of Daurian Starlings over Seletar Dam. File photo dated 19.9.2012.
If you google murmurations, you will find many fascinating videos of flocks of Starlings in their thousands flying in formation over meadows and towns in the USA and the English countryside. These are murmurations of Starlings, where thousands gathered at dusk and weaved around in a mesmerizing display before setting down to roost.
According to a study by George Young at Princeton University, they co-ordinate their movements by looking at the nearest seven neighbours. The fluid synchronized movement is not led by any leaders. They more or less follow each other’s movement and stay within the group. This may be their instinct to feel safe in numbers.
From September, flocks of Daurian Starlings Sturnus sturninus start arriving to our island. These common winter visitors and passage migrants numbered in their hundreds during the peak in October with the 1,200 starlings, the largest ever recorded, at Yishun Polytechnic on 27 September 2009.
This is part of a flock of 600 plus photographed at the Seletar Dam on 19 September 2012. Unfortunately I was so engrossed watching the display that I forgot to video this spectacle. Before the fly around they gathered on the beach near to the mangroves but did not appear to be foraging. During the fly around some returned to perch on the dead trees above the mangroves for a while before flying off again to join the flock. These murmurations lasted till late dusk when they would descent and roost among the tall mangroves there. I am sure before long someone will have a video of our very own Murmuration.
Close up of a Daurian Starling and close formation flying. They are one of the six unprotected birds in the Wild Animals and Birds Act, together with our resident Asian Glossy Starlings Apolnis panayensis. The Bird Group is working with the AVA to see if they can be taken out of the schedule.
Reference. The Avifauna of Singapore. Lim Kim Seng 2009.