From far enough away, a twisting, undulating swarm of starlings — called a murmuration — looks like a giant organism.
Get closer and you’ll see that this giant is really hundreds or even thousands of birds, apparently moving as one. We’ve studied what makes this mass move with high-powered modeling algorithms and math. But get down to the individual bird and the rules are fairly simple. If a bird next to you moves, you move. Keep a certain distance from the birds in your vicinity. Rules like this, when thousands of birds follow them, can make for a murmuration.
You can almost see the waves of information traveling across the flock:
The images above were shot by Alpaca Media in Utrecht, Netherlands earlier this month. In the full video below, the company captured some of the most stunning flock movements I’ve ever seen:
How the starlings achieve almost instantaneous coordinated movement however, is still not fully understood. But we know it’s beautiful.
IMAGES: Alpaca Media