European starlings are nothing more than ordinary blackbirds. You’ve probably seen them clustered on telephone wires or soaring in the sky over your backyard. Estimates of the population of this bird top two hundred million in North America.They’re also the birds responsible for the mesmerizing flock formations known as “murmurations” in which hundreds and even hundreds of thousands of birds swoop, spin, and dive together in amazing unison, creating strange, dark shapes in the sky as if the flock was a single living organism.
Starling murmurations have been marveled at for decades. In the 1930s, ornithologists hypothesized that they were able to move as they did through the power of telepathy. Now, though, we understand better that they are split second reflexes on the part of the birds that, en masse, cause this extraordinary synchronicity. But it can still be very eerie to watch.
This video shows a positively massive murmuration of starlings darkening the sky astray barrel through the air across a field and toward an array of power lines. The enormous, screaming flock of birds seems to be the aerial equivalent of stampede, as they move in a dark cloud of wings and birdcall.
To some, this video reminded them of a line from the Bible. In the Book of Revelation (19:17-21):
“And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God.”
This references vultures coming to feast on the bodies of the slain after the battles described in the verses around it.
Despite their scary flocking behavior, the starlings did not look ready to attack.