Liberty Smith and Sophie Windsor Clive are out on the River Shannon rowing along. They have a camera. The weather is rather cloudy and dreary but the women are in for the surprise of their lives.
A host of starlings begins flying and dancing in the air right above the women’s canoe. The birds dive, split into groups of two, come back together, fold in various patterns, almost hit the water, and finally fly away. The behavior is called murmuration.
The women are staggered. This is really beyond belief. The birds do acrobatics in the air that seem impossible. The flying is certainly well beyond anything people can do.
The stunned expression on the women’s faces just really says it all. They women appear to have been looking for this but they never expected to see what they got for free. The video of the birds is unbelievable. It is entrancing, exciting, and truly spectacular.
The cloud of starlings is almost blinding at times. The birds soar together in patterns and then split apart in what looks like a frenzy of just having fun. You just have never seen so many birds flying so close together in your life. Not a single bird crashes into another bird.
The birds fly so close to the women’s canoe that you can actually see individual birds. The birds may be 20 to 30 feet above the canoe or even closer. You can hear the women gasping in awe. It is awesome. This is not the trite kind of awesome but really the absolutely unbelievable kind of awesome.
The starlings cover an area that is a least a quarter of a mile long and wide. The size of the video does not allow a really good estimate of the area but it could be as big as three-quarters of a mile long and wide. There are probably a million birds in the flock.
If you did not know any better, you would swear that this bird show of shows was choreographed and produced electronically in a studio. The intricacy of the movements and the speed is just not to be believed.
The sound is exceptional. You can hear the rush of the birds as they soar and maneuver above the women in the canoe.
Starlings are relatively small birds. An individual starling may be as long as six inches and weigh about two ounces. A murmuration is a flock. The birds can do the feats of flying acrobatics because the proximity of each bird to the other birds helps the individual birds to make the turns and form the patterns.
Physicians and scientists have recently determined that getting out and about in nature is a major contributor to a longer and healthier life. This astonishing spectacle is certainly an affirmation of the uplifting (no pun intended) and thrilling things that the natural world has to offer those that venture out into it.