Chorus Line Hypothesis

In my mind murmuration is one of nature’s greatest pageants. Undulating spasms of reckless harmony never fails to take my breath away. Erupting effortlessly, exuding exquisite order and purpose, a murmuration of Starlings begs consideration.

Beyond recognition of defensive advantages, the mechanics of murmuration remained elusive until 1984. That year zoologist Wayne Potts published his murmuration hypothesis in the journal Nature. Using high speed film and frame by frame analysis, Potts detailed the “Chorus Line” effect.

He said -“birds are like dancers who see an approaching leg kick when it’s still down the line, and anticipate what to do.”

Birds don’t respond to immediate neighbors, instead they anticipate and react to movement down the line Flying into, rather than away from the flock kick starts the kerfuffle. After that, split second reflex accounts for dizzying speed and flash mob contortions.