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Starling Murmuration in Scotland

A regular sunset shows performed by migrating starlings in Gretna shows that the birds are really into that small town in the south of Scotland

Starling Murmuration
A twirl in the sky before resting up for the night
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If you already know what starling murmuration is, or at least heard of such phenomenon, you must know it's quite a show. Scientists are not sure why these migratory birds perform before roosting, but it's supposed this helps them to fight off predators and communicate about good feeding grounds, or probably it's done for the sake of warmth—the bigger the flock, the warmer it will get.

Neither do scientists know how the birds choose the stage where to perform. Anyway, Dumfries and Galloway in South Scotland has somehow won the favour of a decent flock of starlings. While millions proceed their journey from Scandinavia further to England, and even more southwards to Greece and Italy, a good hundred of thousands choose to winter here along the Anglo-Scottish border in Gretna. Note that earlier this number was much bigger, in recent years the overall number of starlings in the Unighted Kingdom has decreased by 65 to 80%.

The best time to watch the natural wonder is deemed November, however, they stay here throughout December, January and also February.

Practical info

What is starling murmuration?

Starling murmuration is a remarkable behavior observed in large flocks of starlings. The birds fly together, twisting and turning in mesmerizing patterns and creating a fascinating spectacle in the sky. The synchronized movement is captivating to those who witness it. Show more

Why do starlings perform murmuration?

Researchers have yet to uncover the reason why starlings swarm in murmuration, but there are hypotheses. Murmuration may be an effective method of predator protection, while also helping birds remain cohesive. In addition, murmuration may be associated with locating food and shelter sites. Some questions remain unanswered as to the specific reasons for this amazing behavior. Show more

Is there a specific reason why starlings flock to Scotland?

Starlings are drawn to Scotland due to a variety of factors including geography, weather patterns, and abundant source of food and shelter. Dumfries and Galloway, located in South Scotland, has become a popular roosting area for starlings, particularly during winter. They are very adapted to the local surroundings and thrive in Scotland's habitats. Show more

When is the best time to witness starling murmuration in Scotland?

The optimal duration to watch starling murmuration in Scotland is between November and February. Gretna in Scotland provides an extended period because the starlings remain there for the entire winter season (December to February), affording visitors ample time to watch the birds. Murmuration usually begins at sunset, and staying patient, yet flexible, is key to avoid missing this captivating display. Show more

Has the number of starlings decreased in recent years?

Recent studies indicate a decrease in starling numbers ranging between 65 and 80%. An apparent decline attributed to changes in agricultural practices, land use, and other environmental factors including the effects of climate change, could be harmful to the species. The decreasing trend in starlings is alarming, but Scotland's population still attracts visitors to witness this incredible behavior. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin