Have you seen a murmuration of starlings in Wicklow?

Those of you familiar with “Wings”, the BirdWatch Ireland quarterly magazine, will know that Cóilín MacLochlainn is the Editor. He has asked for our help in finding Starling murmurations.

“I am hoping to carry a feature on Starling murmurations and would be very interested to learn of any murmurations you are aware of in your area. That information would give us a good idea of the distribution of Starling winter roosts in Ireland (though their locations can vary from year to year), something which has not been documented to date. So, you can all be citizen scientists and help us break new ground, if you know of any murmurations in your area”.

Cóilín points out, for example, that there used to be one south of Blessington, near Poulaphouca. Do you know if it is still there?. Let us know if you have seen a Murmuration near you – just give us the date and the location (village or townland name will be fine – if you are unsure of the name you can check it here .  Also, if you have seen where the birds actually roost, let us know the type (bridge/tree/ building/cliff etc) and location.

You can email the information to us at – birdwatchwicklow@gmail.com and we will collate it and pass it on to Cóilín.

If you’re not familiar with the term ‘murmuration’, here is a brief explanation by Sylvia Thompson published in her Nature Diary in the Irish Times last November:-

 The best time to see a murmuration is just before dusk on a fine, cold winter evening.

 Starling murmurations are among nature’s most wonderful sights. Made up of hundreds to thousands of starlings swirling through the skies together, the murmurations occur just before the starlings swoop down and settle into their roost for the night.

Starlings form these large groups both to protect themselves against predators and to keep warm on winter evenings. Bird-watching experts (known as birders) have discovered that each starling follows the movement of six or seven other birds flying closest to them so if one bird changes speed, the others follow suit.

This ripples through the murmuration and means that they are able to fly at speeds of around 32km/h without crashing into each other in mid air.

Although their numbers have declined hugely in recent years, starlings continue to roost in sheltered spots in woodland, on cliffs and buildings. The best time to see a murmuration is just before dusk on a fine, cold winter evening.”

You can also see a video of one here.

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