A flock of starlings is called a murmuration.

This link leads to a beautiful video of thousands of starlings creating spontaneous moving sculptures in the sky.

It’s breathtaking.

I love how the scientific and the divine intertwine, for the murmuration is a wonder of aerodynamics and of art. I love that scientists still do not completely understand how it works. There is a yet undiscovered scientific principle there, but what does it matter? All that really matters is that it touches us in the deep place where awe lives.

I love that the starlings aren’t trying to be beautiful or awe-inspiring. They just are.

I love that the moment reminds us of the hollowness of money. The richest people in the world could not summon that moment, no matter how much they paid. You can’t pre-book tickets for such an event or make plans around it. Anyone lucky enough to be present when the starlings swoop has to be gifted with it─by a power much greater than money.

One of my favourite parts of the video is the last few seconds when the starlings disappear into the distance and all the girls can do is laugh quietly. The laughs say, “There are no words.” The laughs say, “How did we get so lucky?” The laughs say, “Wow.”


About Arlene Somerton Smith

Writer, laughing thinker, miner of inspirational insights, sports fan, and community volunteer

Posted on November 18, 2011, in Inspiration, science and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Beautiful!

    And apparently we have the American Acclimatization Society to thank for importing them to North America around 1890. And I had previously believed it to be the work of Robert Van Wyck, the Mayor of New York at the time.

    • Really? You are a fountain of interesting information. We had starlings around our farm when I was growing up, but they never favoured us with a display like this. In fact, my one enduring memory of starlings from that time was the persistent efforts of one starling that wanted to make our mailbox her home. It made mail delivery quite a challenge.

  2. The hymn, God of the Sparrow, includes the line, “How does the creature say Awe? How does the creature say Praise?” Just like this, I suspect.

  3. One of those moments that leaves you breathless with a warm feeling. Life still manages to scoop our tech world!

  4. Brilliant video. Your words are awe-inspiring as well. Thank you for this thought-provoking blog with a smidgeon of education. I appreciate all the ways that nature confounds science.

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