What are some interesting facts about swarms

Flocks of starlings

Synchronized navigation through the air

The flocking of starlings is a unique natural spectacle that hardly any other bird species can offer. Already in the early summer, groups of young birds and unmated starlings form immediately after the first breeding season. The closer autumn approaches, the larger the swarms become.


  • Flock of starlings with several thousand birds - Photo: Thomas Schwarzbach / www.naturgucker.de

  • Swarm of starlings - Photo: Janusz A. Rekowski-Schw./www.naturgucker.de

  • Swarm of Starlings - Photo: NABU / Wilhelm Spickers

  • Swarm of starlings in the vineyards - Photo: Ursula Gönner / www.naturgucker.de

  • Swarm of starlings - Photo: Thomas Schwarzbach / www.naturgucker.de

The flocking of starlings is a unique natural spectacle that hardly any other bird species can offer. Already in the early summer, groups of young birds and unmated starlings form immediately after the first breeding season. The closer autumn approaches, the larger the swarms become. The formation of swarms protects starlings from attackers from the air.

Central European swarms of starlings reach their maximum numbers in September and October - shortly before departure for southern and western Europe. Hundreds of them then sit on power lines in rural regions. When they invade their roosts in the evening, mostly in large reed areas or in groups of trees, imposing swarming clouds of many thousands of starlings can be seen in the sky about an hour before sunset before they suddenly sink down.


Fascinating swarm intelligence

The largest flocks of over a million birds are found every year in Rome and other places in their wintering areas. The noise level generated there can be deafening. And the droppings of the many birds also cause trouble every now and then.


Together they protect themselves from birds of prey. - Photo: Günther Assing / www.naturgucker.de

A star orientates itself within the flock all the time to up to seven birds in its environment. He tries to keep the same position with these birds in flight. The synchronous, wave-like movements of the flying starlings seem almost like a gigantic and tireless organism of their own. The formation of swarms protects starlings from attackers from the air. Birds of prey, as natural enemies of the star, have such a hard time fixing a single bird within the flock. The synchronous movement of the birds to the center of the flock is therefore crucial to ward off predators.



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