Murmuration; a natural phenomenon destroyed by a council.

I’ve learnt a new word; murmuration. According to the Oxford dictionary murmuration means both the act of murmuring, and a flock of starlings. However, the word has come to mean not just a flock of starlings, but the movement the birds make. It is a phenomenon of nature that amazes and delights those lucky enough to witness it, as the birds whirl in an ever-changing pattern. It is worth looking at the video.

In the winter months thousands of starlings come together to roost in trees for the night. Before settling, however, they put on aerial displays, swooping and diving in unison. Why do they do this? The ornithologists tell us that they do it for various reasons. It gives them safety in numbers as birds of prey which are hunting them find it hard to target one bird in the middle of a hypnotising flock of thousands. They also do it to keep warm at nights and to exchange information.

If you watch the video you will see how sometimes the murmuration splits into two. This can be caused by a bird of prey being present while hunting. It might remind you of shoals of fish which separate when attacked by a predator.

It has become a popular pass time visiting the roosting sites to see this mesmerising natural phenomenon. Nevertheless, not everybody is so delighted with the roosting birds. They do make a lot of noise and a lot of mess.

In Winchester, recently, the council was forced to cut down a group of fir trees because of the starlings. They received complaints from the emergency services that their vehicles had been rendered useless because of the birds’ droppings. This was endangering people’s lives because the emergency staff had to clean their cars before being able to attend the emergency call. 

The council decided that the solution to this problem was cutting down the trees in which the starlings roosted. This caused a great outrage as spectators turned up to watch the murmuration only to find the starlings had lost their home! Surely it would have been simpler and less costly to have moved the vehicles. Acts like this show a great lack of discernment. 

Such amazing and delightful natural phenomenon like murmurations can not be produced by human intelligence. This is, perhaps, just as well, considering the lack of brainpower showed by some of the authorities. Murmurations need to be protected for our future.