Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Beautiful avian ballet: Starlings on Otmoor

The starlings are an astonishing thing to see - Near Oxford - England. 

This was filmed at an RSPB reserve called Otmoor. The music is from CSS Music. The track is "soaring with the sun". Like drivers on a freeway, starlings dont appear to mind having neighbors nearby on their sides—or above and below, for that matter—as long as they have open space ahead. That makes sense, since the presence of a clear path in the direction of travel minimizes the likelihood of collisions should the birds need to shift their course abruptly, as is likely when a falcon attacks. 

... the researchers have been able to use it to calculate the number of neighbors to which each starling pays close attention—a quantified elaboration of Pottss chorus line idea. By looking at correlations between the movements of neighboring starlings, they can show that each bird always pays attention to the same number of neighbors, whether theyre closer or farther away. How many neighbors is that? Six or seven, says Cavagna, who points out that starlings in flocks can almost always see many more nearby birds— but the number may be closely tied to birds cognitive ability. The direction of the flock can be coordinated by each birds tracking six or seven other birds. ..