Is it nor­mal for so many birds to con­gre­gate to­gether?

Bird Watching (UK) - - Your View -

QEvery evening, since mid-spring, we’ve no­ticed a huge col­lec­tion of Black­birds/star­lings (we’re not sure) out the back of our flat. There has to be around 1,000 birds that con­gre­gate every evening. They al­ways fly into the trees around some al­lot­ments where there are berries but don’t reg­u­larly feed. Is this a com­mon event? I have at­tached a few pho­tos taken through binoc­u­lars for you. Lee Jemma

AThey’re Star­lings, many of them ju­ve­niles, and it’s com­mon for this species to gather in large flocks from mid­sum­mer on­wards – such gath­er­ings usu­ally reach a peak in au­tumn and win­ter, when they per­form ‘mur­mu­ra­tions’ – co-or­di­nated flights prior to set­tling down for the night. The birds gather for pro­tec­tion against preda­tors (on the safety in num­bers prin­ci­ple), and per­haps to ex­change in­for­ma­tion on good food sources, with the young birds fol­low­ing the adults the fol­low­ing morn­ing. Bird Watch­ing ed­i­tor Matt Mer­ritt says: “I have a sim­i­lar thing go­ing on in a large tree near my home at the mo­ment, although on a much smaller scale. Up to 100 Star­lings gather every night, and up to 40 come into my gar­den and use the feed­ers – they’re go­ing through five or six fat balls a day.

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