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Starling Murmuration in England

It's unclear how these birds are choosing their wintering grounds. But for some reason, quite a lot stop by at Brighton Pier for the entire season

Best time: November–February

Starling Murmuration
Starling Murmuration

Scandinavian starlings are known to winter in Southern Europe, however not all of them. When some fly as far south as Rome, or Athens, a decent number of tens and hundreds of thousands have fallen in love with Brighton Pier, and stay there throughout the entire winter.

Virtually, every night a plethora of plain dark-colored birds gather at the seaside and perform their gorgeous pre-roosting twirling dance oversea. And why do they do that, instead of going to sleep straight ahead? There is a thought that grouping together keeps starlings safe from predators such as falcons since it's hard to target one bird out of hypnotized flock of thousands. The birds also might gather to exchange information about good feeding areas as well as to keep warm at night.

Scientists are trying to find other explanations, but it seems to be inexplicable. And what are all those explanations needed for? It's beautiful, even without any scholarly remarks.

You may watch the spectacle at sunset all along the pier, starting from the last days of October through to the first days of March. Afterwards, the birds set off on their trip back home to Scandinavia.

Practical info

When is the best time to see the Starling Murmuration in Brighton Pier?

The Starling Murmuration in Brighton Pier is best viewed between late October and early March, when thousands of starlings perform their twirling dance at sunset. The phenomenon reaches its peak from November to February. Show more

Where can I watch the Starling Murmuration in Brighton Pier?

The Starling Murmuration can be observed at Brighton Pier where dark-colored birds gather every evening to dance in the sky before settling down. The whole spectacle can be seen from different locations up and down the pier. Show more

How do the starlings protect themselves from predators while performing their pre-roosting dance?

Starlings protect themselves from predators such as falcons by moving in large groups making it difficult for predators to target one bird. The pre-roosting dance also serves as a way for them to exchange information about good feeding areas and keep warm at night. Although scientists continue to investigate the phenomenon, it's not yet completely understood. Show more

Do all Scandinavian starlings migrate to Southern Europe during winters?

Many Scandinavian starlings winter in Southern Europe but a significant number of them stop by Brighton Pier instead from November to February. These birds are believed to be the same species that spend the winter in Southern Europe but for reasons unknown, they choose to migrate to Brighton Pier. Show more

Apart from Brighton Pier, where else in England can I see the Starling Murmuration?

In addition to Brighton Pier, Starling Murmuration can be spotted elsewhere in England during winter. Other areas where this phenomenon takes place include Gretna Green in Scotland and Aberystwyth in Wales, as well as Otmoor in Oxfordshire. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin