Help us give nature a home from £3 a month.
Birds by name
Murmuration exaltation: a starling flock forms a fantastic acrobatic mass before roosting
Image: David Kjaer
A murmuration of starlings is an amazing sight - a swooping mass of thousands of birds whirling in the sky above your head.
It's basically a mass aerial stunt - thousands of birds all swooping and diving in unison. It's completely breathtaking to witness.
We think that starlings do it for many reasons. Grouping together offers safety in numbers – predators such as peregrine falcons find it hard to target one bird in the middle of a hypnotising flock of thousands.
They also gather to keep warm at night and to exchange information, such as good feeding areas.
They gather over their roosting site, and perform their wheeling stunts before they roost for the night.
Despite the incredible size of the flocks, starling numbers are just a fraction of what they used to be. Huge starling flocks used to gather over Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Belfast, but today you have a much better chance of seeing the birds in rural areas.
The starling population has fallen by over 80% in recent years, meaning they are now on the critical list of UK birds most at risk.
The decline is believed to be due to the loss of permanent pasture, increased use of farm chemicals and a shortage of food and nesting sites in many parts of the UK.