A murmuration is the collective noun for a flock of starlings. Liberty Smith and Sophie Windsor Clive took this amazing video after their canoe expedition on Ireland’s River Shannon. It is scary, remarkable, breathtaking, and magical, all at once. Everybody should pause and watch this painterly dance; these types of swarms are some of the most fascinating existing phenomena. Damn, Nature, you awesome.

A short film that follows the journey of two girls in a canoe on the River Shannon and how they stumble across one of nature’s greatest phenomenons; a murmuration of starlings.

We are overwhelmed with the amazing response to our film ‘Murmuration’ that we created for the WWF short film competition, Life.Nature.You. Make The Connection.


What makes possible the uncanny coordination of these murmurations, as starling flocks are so beautifully known? Until recently, it was hard to say. Scientists had to wait for the tools of high-powered video analysis and computational modeling. And when these were finally applied to starlings, they revealed patterns known less from biology than cutting-edge physics.

Starling flocks, it turns out, are best described with equations of “critical transitions — systems that are poised to tip, to be almost instantly and completely transformed, like metals becoming magnetized or liquid turning to gas. Each starling in a flock is connected to every other. When a flock turns in unison, it’s a phase transition.

At the individual level, the rules guiding this are relatively simple. When a neighbor moves, so do you. Depending on the flock’s size and speed and its members’ flight physiologies, the large-scale pattern changes. What’s complicated, or at least unknown, is how criticality is created and maintained.












Liberty Smith Thread