If you feed the birds, pat yourself on the back and know that you are playing your part in helping your feathered friends survive through winter.
As the temperature starts to drop autumn morphs into winter, a magical natural phenomenon fills the skies over many areas of the country. The starling mumurations are a spectacle to behold and worth seeking out to share this natural wonder with friends, family and especially with children.
Gardening until dusk becomes commonplace for many of us as the nights draw in, but it also affords the first glimpse of murmuration season, if you are lucky to live in the right zone. As night falls and autumn garden tools are put to bed, the sky goes dark and simply erupts into an energised, swirling black cloud of starlings. It’s a show-stopper. The magnificent swooping sight of thousands of iridescent black-feathered starlings, dancing across the sky in an elegant, yet eerie choreographed performance is truly a sight to behold.
As dusk starts to fall, this spectacular pirouetting dark cloud swoops across the skyline across the horizon. It’s a beautiful mass of individual birds almost interconnected as one as they dance the fandango, in huge cartwheel motions across the sky, before finally roosting for the night.
Murmurations can start in September and as the season progresses the congregations gradually swell until hundreds of thousands of birds join the evening throng. Latest high tech analysis reveals that they move as an intelligent cloud away from the immediate danger of swooping predators; hawks and raptors and that the movement and speed of each individual bird affects the next and those around it. Safety in numbers perhaps protects them from attack from predators, but it is also thought that their noisy evening chatter shares information on good feeding spots and that the night time congregatory behaviour helps them to cluster together and to keep warm at night.
Where to see starling murmarations
The chattering daytime roosts in the treetops of local copses and at the edges of woodlands and towns give clues to where these huge shape shifting flocks may occur, but it’s such an exciting seasonal twilight performance that special pop up events in areas blessed with murmarative activity are listed online and in the local press and by word of mouth among wildlife enthusiasts. Look online, or check out the Starlings in the UK website.
Feed the birds
The starling, almost a menace at my childhood garden bird table is now in trouble, numbers have crashed by 80% or more, and today the populations of these lively, inquisitive birds are a shadow of their former selves. Feed the birds and keep a note on which species visit your feeders. Starlings will feed from ground feeders or bird tables and sometimes from hanging feeders too. Choose a no mess, top quality mix like Richard’s Premium Bird Food. It’s rated as a Five Star choice with good reason. Try and small bag and see for yourself, but we know you won’t be disappointed.