Best time to travel to Wales

Starling Murmuration in Wales

Twilight is the show time in Aberystwyth Pier when the whole 50,000 starlings perform pre-roosting ballet in the sky

Best time: November–February

Starling Murmuration
Starling Murmuration

The fun fact is that this small coastal town which hosts 50,000 starlings every winter, has only 16,000 townspeople, and half of them are students of Aberystwyth University.

It's a matter of a miracle that these birds choose Royal Pier in Aberystwyth to be their roosting point. This place in Wales is like Brighton Pier in England, or Gretna Green in Scotland, which boast their own colonies of wintering starlings, and it's truly inexplicable why the birds have chosen those places.

The spectacle begins in the twilight—at first, it's a small flock which grows bigger, and bigger until it becomes a huge cloud of birds. They dance in the sky for a while, and then the bird mass finally descend to roost under the pier.

In fact, Aberystwyth bird gathering involves both local population of starlings and some 10,000 of migratory birds from the Northern Europe which are fine with Wales' climate, and therefore, abandon the majority, that continues their journey to Southern Europe.

During the daytime the birds scatter in all directions to feed, often kilometers off Aberystwyth Pier, but come back with the dusk. Scientists explain that weird but beautiful behaviour named starling murmuration as a way to protect oneselves from predators. At the same time communal roosting allows them to keep warm at cool winter nights.

Wales' most striking natural phenomenon is observed over Aberystwyth Pier annually between November and February.

Practical info

What is the recommended time to witness the starling murmuration event in Wales?

The starling murmuration event in Wales is most aptly observed between November and February. Aberystwyth Pier is the perfect place to be, where these birds flock together in huge numbers to demonstrate a bizarre pre-roost ballet in the sky at dusk. The starling murmuration event is an awe-inspiring spectacle and indeed worth a visit to Wales. Show more

Where can I spot the starling murmuration in Aberystwyth?

For a glimpse of the starling murmuration in Aberystwyth, head down to the Royal Pier from where you can witness these birds soar above while in flight. Over 50,000 wintering starlings congregate in Aberystwyth annually, showcasing their dance skills in the sky before descending to rest under the pier. Show more

What is the number of starlings that visit Aberystwyth each winter?

More than 50,000 starlings form a colony in Aberystwyth each winter. This group consists of migratory birds from Northern Europe who choose to abandon the majority flock and settle here because of Wales' favorable climatic conditions. The starling murmuration in Aberystwyth is an impressive natural phenomenon given the massive number of birds that are part of it. Show more

What is the reason Aberystwyth Pier is a preferred roosting place for starlings?

Researchers are yet to understand why starlings choose Aberystwyth Pier as their preferred roosting location over other sites in the UK. Other locations in the UK that have wintering starling colonies include Brighton Pier in England and Gretna Green in Scotland. Some scientists' opinions are that by flocking together and exhibiting such breathtaking choreography, the birds can defend themselves against their natural predators. Aberystwyth Pier offers a warm location for the starlings to roost on cold winter nights. Show more

What benefits do starlings derive from communal roosting?

Communal roosting is beneficial to starlings in several ways. Birds generate warmth together when they flock at night, helping them endure the cold winter weather. Roosting together in large numbers offers safety that enables them to safeguard against predators who struggle to locate and attack a single bird. The murmurations they perform before roosting exhibit remarkable synchronization, making them one of the most awe-inspiring natural displays in Wales. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin