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You're right- the whooshing sound a full flock makes as they take flight in a panic is truly spectacular. But as your remarkable video demonstrates, they are truly vulgar, destructive creatures. And why don't you start a separate "videos of flocking birds" blog? That'd be huge.


amazing video.

i don't know much about birding, but i starlings have long been my least favorite bird. around dc, we have a lot of sparrows, and the starlings seem to always be bullying them. something about a starling just screams "punk."


Wow, I wonder what caused them to do that?


Great video- although the titling in the first half is a LIT-TLE annoying.


Nice catch with the video. Reminds me of when the junkies out back all swarm that last fit and nearly bring themselves down. Okay, it doesn't really, but the visual is kind of the same.


Makes me seasick. And please do something about all those "whoah's" and "what is it about that tree?" sound effects... replace it with the sound of the ocean or something.


Hey, could you tell me who filmed this video? Whoever did should put some kind of notice on the video. Maybe like a cheap-looking annoying spinning text effect that loops 9 times in the center of the video. That way no one else could take credit for the lots-of-birds-in-a-tree video thats sure to become the next big internet meme.


scott, in case you're wondering why this old story suddenly got "poplar," see here
(not my joke)


Looks like a great place to apply a series of shotgun blasts. Too many cars running back and forth tho.


Ima Palled

so......... you justa HAD to say "sturnus vulgaris" completely out of context... as in (silence)... Sturnus vulgaris... (more silence)... as if to prove to everyone in the car that you KNEW it!

Here's to you, Mr. knows-the-latin-name-of-wild-birds guy...



Cybertron 5000


Bet you guys are all REAL tough without the keyboard. I bet when the secretary denies your supply requests for more #2 pencils, you march out of your cubicle, track her down, and make REALLY ANNOYING SNIDE COMMENTS until she gives in! FIGHT THE MAN OMG LOL

You've arrived on the Internet, Scott -- total strangers are fighting in YOUR blog over events that have no impact whatsoever on their lives! Congratulations, good work, and for pete's sake, invest in a few anti-bird grenades!

Old European

nice video, shame about the american comments!
a very very strange breed, those yanks!


nice video.

Grüss aus Deutschland.


Nice video dude, really unusual )

We have a similiar amount of miner birds here on our property at the moment, they hang around the front driveway, I will pay them closer attention in case something weird happens )

from Justin in Geelong/Australia


Glad everyone is enjoying it, this has been quite a surprise getting all the traffic. So far I have been Dug, Farked, and Googled. And what appears to be a Rocketboom like show in Germany covered it and I am getting a lot of European traffic.

Cheers everyone! Thanks for visiting!


You've also now been Aardvark'ed. ;)


leslie anne levine

when i first viewed this, i thought the pair of cedars was some kind of giant, digitally created, bird creature. like Yagarek, the Garuda, in Perdido Street Station. the starlings were disturbing, but the flapping of giant dark, sillouetted "wings" as starlings alighted and then departed from the tree was even more surreal and freaky. a bird gestalt - subliminal communication or an overactive subconscious?

Bob M

Yes, bit of a shame about the titling, but all the same a great little video clip.
Bob Devon UK
PS I don't think you were saying the latin name to impress anyone, more likely for the benefit of your kids who I think I hear in the background?


Interesting video! Any ornithologists care to explain the phenomena?


All I can think is what fun it would be to have a 12 gauge ready for the nasty things


Hey Great video... me likey.


Bob from the UK asked:

PS I don't think you were saying the latin name to impress anyone, more likely for the benefit of your kids who I think I hear in the background?

Yes indeed, I had my kids in the car and have been teaching them about birds.

In any case, I have gotten a lot of feedback about the video, and am going to upload a new "remix" with better quality video and a sound track. Hope to get that online in the next day or two, depending on how long till Google Video puts it through their processing.


You've been fazed :)

Great video


That is one strange series of events that would sure catch the attention of any bystanders with a video camera. I would sure of like to have a 12 gauge at that point lol but in any event, I'm sure the birds were just tired and trying to find a leaved tree in which to rest upon, because maybe in Europed at that time of year, the trees all had leaves, so the birds natural instinct is to land in a tree of leaves? I don't know, but nice video man.

Wine Dude

You should see the damage a "cloud" of these bastards can do to a vineyard!


This video is superb, BRAVO !, and demonstrates very well the habit of the Starlings to flock from one yard to another in search for food and water sources at the end of automn, well (november, december)when everything is starting to freeze just before they migrate south (they migrate in large groups).
They do the same at my place in my ornemental crabapple tree where the fruits are frozen (but still good food and water source for them ; it is freakyish.. :-) in about 10 to 15 minutes, all the fruits will be eaten.
They flock and pick at the tree till it is empty of fruits than all flock to another backyard to do the same.

Your cedar is probably female and containing small cones (fruits) and they just love that ! The fruits are so small that they don't have to pick at it more than once for eating it (contrary to my crabapples). And they will keep at it till empty of fruits.

They are disturbed by the cars passing by, your presence, or other presence and sounds, so they come and go fast and furiously :-)

Hope I could help in giving you the explanation why they are acting like so. And make you know that these particular birds are extremely intelligent : they will remember from year to year where the best food is. They are systematic in their search for food for the long voyage south.
They have the ability to imitate all kinds of sounds : other bird's calls, cats meowing etc..
I am french speaking from Quebec, so please excuse my ''English'' I am trying :-)


Gorgeous video clip.
Alfred Joseph Hitchcock must've liked this.

Rags Mahone

Cool ! How long did it take you to train all those birds to do that ?


I have put your video in my collection :

great video ! yess a Hitchcock feel to it :-))


A 12gauage Shotgun works wonders. I once shot at a group of starlings from the hip and brought down five with one shot.


A comment to Phil : a better way to get them off your cultures (without killing, which is ..well..):

Starlings have a well developed sense of taste, and are repelled by grape flavoring. Fogging with grape flavoring is an effective an environmentally safe method to discourage these birds from roosting or flocking in your fruit trees like cherry or other wild fruits trees, that is if you are a cultivator of course.
From a pest control perspective, they are highly beneficial. They consume large numbers of clover beetles, cutworms, Japanese beetles, grasshoppers, ants, bees, wasps, and other insects. They also will eat garbage, and because they add fruits such as cherries and wild fruits to their diet, they can become an agricultural pest.
Their droppings enrich the soil, but in areas of large roosting communities, this can have also a downside since their droppings contain a fungus like, most of birds do, that is greatly beneficial to the soil quality,, but if a lot and soil is disturbed, airborn fungus can cause allergies to humans.

Now another idea :

Do like in Denmark :,,, you could make it a profitable tourism attraction :-) why not :-)
There the phenomenon of flocking in large groups when the sun is just going down or when the sun is just coming up is called the ''Dark Sun Phenomenon''
Read this :
4 April 2003

Surge in interest for Black Sun phenomenon

Starlings on nature's own big screen: "Black Sun" season is here once again. Birdwatchers are flocking to see millions of starlings perform their beguiling migratory patterns on the dusky Jutland horizon, every night for the coming weeks.
April 4th,2003

Last call for the "Starling Express"
Popular interest in the "Black Sun" phenomenon--the migratory patterns of millions of starlings, which block out the springtime sun--has exploded. The phenomenon has become so popular that organizers could easily have sold 50,000 tickets for a special arrangement staged by national railway company DSB and the National Forest and Nature Council last week in Tønder Marsh.

There were just 275 seats available in a special train from Copenhagen, with 10,000 people calling in to reserve anywhere from two to 10 tickets in advance. Most were turned away.

The starlings are en route from their winter habitat in Southern Europe, to their summer mating homes up North. Flocks of the haunting birds stop over in Tønder Marsh, to gather energy for the final leg of their long flight. Starling flocks can be found in several places in Denmark, but the largest concentration is located in the Jutland Marsh. According to the Forest and Nature Council, some 1.2 million starlings can be found in the marsh region at this time of year.

Beyond the 275 lucky ticket holders on the Starling Express, many locals are keen followers of the Black Sun phenomenon, making their way into the marsh in droves at sundown.

The Black Sun
The show begins discreetly. Smaller flocks of starlings fly in advance of the giant surge, with gradually larger groupings following in line. Suddenly, the rustle of a million starling wings can be heard in flight, and the haunting formation of birds dominates the field of vision. The sky is darkened momentarily by the rush of birds--the "black sun." As the birds move closer together, heading downward into the nearby forestland, the horizon fades to gray.

Spectators of the great starling wave say it beats any opera performance--and what's more, this show plays to a packed house every night from mid-March to mid-April.

So whether you are in the north (this phenomenon will take place in late automn.
Or in the south (this will take place in early spring) ...
oh,,, I will take 10% of the benefits for the idea :-))))

Have a nice day :-)


The link to this article above


Awsom, I was expecting the cedar to break in half.

marty Sweeney

i live in collegville PA where is your development

Craig Reynolds

Regarding the "black sun" phenomenon mentioned by Phil, there is a nice collection of still images here: http://epod.usra.edu/archive/epodviewer.php3?oid=309856


I took care of a crow for about 3 years, It has always been a sort of hated bird by most of the public and is even illegal to keep as pet now.

But that was the best bird ive ever had, you could teach them to talk, ect ect, very very nice pet.


Saw your video on the Yahoo main page yesterday. Created lots of comments. You're famous Scott! I liked the pre remix version better...more real. I think the awe of the moment was diluted by the music. Life doesn't have background music!
Here in Austrailia those introduced starlings are regarded as a pest who are displacing the natural birds species and also causing alot of crop damage. We have 'starling shooters' on the border of Western Australia who are employed to keep them out of the last starling free state of Australia.


Sarah - thanks for the note. Being featured on the home page of yahoo was a surprise. Unfortunately with no direct link (other than text in the video) back to this blog I don't think as many people found the site like you did.

Thanks for visiting - the Australian "starling shooters" should come visit Pennsylvania!!!



Great video. The comments from you and your family make it even more interesting. By the way, you've been Skoopyed.

Fred Sanderson

I too witnessed a huge flock of Starlings a bit further out in the country, no houses, no trees, it was sheer Poetry In Motion as they weaved this way and that, wonderfull to watch,. I didn't get any photo's let alone a video so yours is a very welcome sight.
Mine eventually landed in some reeds by a lake.
Anyway well done.

Gina Solari

Hi great video, i´m working in swarm intelligence, i have to learn about de bird flock communication, if anyone can help me with this topic please write me to [email protected], thanks!!! :)
I´m from Venezuela.

Robert Krulwich

Hi Scott,

My name is Robert Krulwich and I report on science for National
Public Radio and contribute all the time to ABC's World News show, the one on at 6:30 with Charlie Gibson.
I know your starling moment, "the Birds" as it's been called, has been all over the place, webbed everywhere, with tens of thousands of hits...but as a regular dropper-by on your site (I found the woodpecker cleaning house to be just..wonderful), I couldn't help but think, "Hey, network tv hasn't run that starling footage yet", so I went to the newsroom today and I showed them first, beautiful flocking footage from Youtube, showing millions of birds doing these gorgeous pirouettes and swarms and swooshes and I said there are a few rules starlings obey so they never, ever (it seems) bump into eachother; these things take place every evening and it's like a better version of the flying wallendas...no accidents! And the newsies all stared and admired. And then I showed them your footage. "This," I said, "is what happened to a guy in Pennsylvannia who had these cedars in his yard and there must be something on those two trees...fruits, no doubt...but anyway, look how heavy so many birds can be!" And the room went ga-ga.
So here's what I'm asking: Would it be possible for you to a)share that footage with ABC News (for which they will pay you something, I imagine) and b) consent to be interviewed about it. As a birder -- and having read your blog -- it seems you are aware of the algorithms that must exist in those birds that allow them to flock the way they do. It's only 2 minutes on the nightly news, so it isn't like NPR where you can get to truly explore a subject, but just the chance to see this stuff makes folks so curious, so in wonder, I'd love to get it on.
I'd call or email, but I don't have your address. I'm writing not from ABC but from NPR cause I can keep in regular contact with my npr address.

thanks, Robert Krulwich.

Karsten Klimmek

Dear Scott Fraser,

we saw your video (The Birds) and wonder If we can licence parts of the video for a tv and cinema commercial (also shown on youtube and facebook, 1 year, Germany, client: Welt Kompakt (daily newspaper: www.welt-kompakt.de) ). Unfortunately we need the material immediately (next two days). Please let me know if you are interested. Thank you very much.

Kind regards


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