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Black Sun or Starling Murmuration

This strange, dancing, airy body is neither tornado nor ghost, but a million starlings!


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At the first sight it seems there is nothing particularly special about this small dark bird, but have you ever seen starling murmuration also known as the black sun or as locals call it—Sort Sol? These terms refer to a natural phenomenon when hundreds, thousands, and millions of starlings simultaneously twirl in the air performing 3D geometrical figures before sleep.

It looks amazing and somewhat scary at the same time, for it resembles a tornado or a ghost, and it is hard to imagine how a huge bird mass can act in such accord.

Scientists have tried to explain how it is possible that starlings move so synchronously and harmoniously, and arrived at the conclusion that this is all about math and physics rather than biology. The main rule for every single starling is to keep the sight of the nearest seven birds around.

This hardly explicable spectacle may be observed in several spots across Denmark, but the most popular place is around Tønder Marsh in southern Jutland, close to the border with Germany. Another great spot to watch them is around the town of Ribe, the oldest existing town in Denmark. During the daytime, the birds feed in the meadow, and by the twilight, they gather at the marshes to waltz in the air for a while until finally settle down to overnight among the reeds.

This wondrous ritual occurs in the evenings during their winter migration from Scandinavia to the warmer Southern Europe, that is roughly between mid-September and mid-October. Another season to spot a mesmerizing spectacle of Black Sun falls half a year later—between March and mid-April, when starlings return to the north.

Starlings' short performance lasts for about 20 minutes, and the best way not to miss it is hire a nature guide, or go with a tour group.

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