Sunday 3 November 2013

Starling Hierarchies

Was out running today, not a huge run, just round the two lakes and along the river. Truth was, my legs were heavy and stuff after doing Parkrun yesterday, and my motivation was sapped by the comfort of being under my duvet on the sofa.

But I still went, dammit!

So, at about 4pm, I was crossing the marina bridge at the back of a well known budget supermarket, when I looked up the weight bearing tower, and saw a number of starlings sat upon it, either pre or post murmuration. They were perched in lines, probably about 50 birds in all, some on the tower, some on the suspension cables.

And it was clear that as I had seen on Autumnwatch footage about Brighton West Pier, there was a genuine "pecking order" (sorry) in place.

Some birds would fly straight into position, several other birds would shift along, and a bird would then have to fly off. This bird would flap off and try and settle down elsewhere, and be immediately chased off, until it found a spot which was presumably appropriate to its status, whereupon another bird was squeezed off.

There was a slightly seperate group of 4 or 5 birds engaged in an endless swapping of positions on a suspension wire.

I was watching entranced for a good 7 or 8 minutes, until the presence of other people on the bridge made me feel like I was being considered a staring-in-the-air nutcase. So I continued my run, and frankly still probably looked as strange as anything!

Copyright Cream Crackered Nature 03/11/13

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