I think it is so important to be in love with place where you live, both home and environs.

As I’ve mentioned before, I am home sick, but as I grade online, the work doesn’t stop. In the late afternoon, I just had to get out, so I grabbed the camera and drove the five miles or so out to Fern Ridge Reservoir for the sunset–very much in Eugene’s backyard.


Mergansers ran away from me screaming, “Run for your lives, boys! She’s got a camera!”

While looking through the lens at the lake, I suddenly did a double take: there was a murmuration out on the lake! I moved my finger a quarter inch to the video button and held as absolute still as I could while I witnessed and videoed this extraordinary natural phenomenon.

I got about ten minutes of video which I cut to two and spliced in a few still images I also took around the lake: two eagles, cormorants, mergansers, egrets, a Great Blue Heron.

Half an hour later I was back home, astonished at the richness I had accidentally encountered because I took a short break.


Of course, I had to do a little research on murmurations, and I found an excellent article in Wired Magazine. Here is an excert. You can follow the link for more (clickety click!).

“Starling flocks, it turns out, are best described with equations of “critical transitions” — systems that are poised to tip, to be almost instantly and completely transformed, like metals becoming magnetized or liquid turning to gas. Each starling in a flock is connected to every other. When a flock turns in unison, it’s aphase transition.

“At the individual level, the rules guiding this are relatively simple. When a neighbor moves, so do you. Depending on the flock’s size and speed and its members’ flight physiologies, the large-scale pattern changes. What’s complicated, or at least unknown, is how criticality is created and maintained.

“It’s easy for a starling to turn when its neighbor turns — but what physiological mechanisms allow it to happen almost simultaneously in two birds separated by hundreds of feet and hundreds of other birds? That remains to be discovered, and the implications extend beyond birds. Starlings may simply be the most visible and beautiful example of a biological criticality that also seems to operate in proteins and neurons, hinting at universal principles yet to be understood.”

7 thoughts on “Murmuration

  1. John Clinton Gray says:

    There’s no why to why birds do that. They’re playing, dancing in air, displaying their birdness without inhibition, without thought, without any why at all.

    Sandy, thank you for catching and sharing your vision. I’m sure Mickey/Mom is gladdened to see through your camera’s lens. Maybe your dad’s out there, looking back at you through it.

  2. Kathy Onarheim says:

    Thanks for my learning something new today. That is beautiful. And to capture while not feeling well too! I have watched it several times already – thanks for sharing.

  3. Mickey/Mom says:

    Thank you Thank you Thank you!!!!!As Kathy said for showing me something new today. I really learned something new. I had been watching the videos in the small form. Toren came over today and was watching

    this murmuration with the picture on my full screen. I was amazed !! She showed me how to do it and now I am looking forward to playing all of your creative videos to see what I have missed!!! Because on my first viewing I had failed to see the birds at all. So now I am curious about what else and how much I have missed. Love you so very much Mickey/Mom

  4. Mickey/Mom says:

    I think I just lost the lengthy comment I made and it is too late for me to write it again, Love Mickey/Mom

  5. Don Hynes says:

    This video inspired a poem. I forwarded to you by email. I love this word, murmuration, and the beauty revealed.

  6. Kinga Biro says:

    What a treat to ‘happen’ on a scene, event, unexpected moment of sheer beauty and enjoyment…these are gifts, and you share them with such relish and artistry…I was right under a murmuration once and could feel the breeze in the undulating movements of the birds.


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