I didn't have a chance to follow this thread til just now but WOW thanks for sharing the vid.

- Lore

On Wed, Jan 22, 2014 at 8:18 AM, Barbara Harmon <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Also learned from the Cornell blog that apparently (at least with Starlings) the birds are consistently coordinating with their seven nearest neighbors. But beyond that they are still somehow able to coordinate with other birds all the way across the flock... and they use the term “effective perceptive range" for this.
And as you said Barry, they are typically exhibiting this behavior in avoidance of a predator.  
On Jan 22, 2014, at 7:39 AM, Barry K. MacKay wrote:

My favourite story about this behaviour came from artist John James Audubon…and we will never see its likes again, nor be able to verify what he claimed.
As I recall he reported that he was watching an enormous flock of Passenger Pigeons flying by, when suddenly a Peregrine Falcon swooped down into them.   The flock swerved, in unison, to avoid the raptor.
But was astounded Audubon was that sometime later another huge flock of Passenger Pigeons flew by, and the entire flock executed the same swooping curve as the first flock did, to avoid the falcon, except this time there was no falcon.   It was as if the first flock had left an invisible imprint that the second followed.
Of course the Passenger Pigeon became officially extinct exactly one century ago, so the story remains forever unverified and unverifiable, unless observed in another species.
At a local aquarium there is a perpendicular transparent, tube-like container, quite large, filled with Alewives, and even within those confines, they exhibit this synchronized schooling behaviour.  Watching them at close range one still can’t see how they do it.
I’ve heard it suggested that there is a “lead” bird or fish or whatever who triggers the others, whose reflexes are far faster than our own…sort of like a speeded-up and multi-faceted version of “the wave” we sometimes seem audiences perform at sporting events, but that seems to me to be a theory that may satisfy our need for reductionist explanations, and yet does not adequately explain what we see in that video.
And yes, it is a “murder” of crows.
Barry Kent MacKay
Bird Artist, Illustrator
Lore Ruttan, Ph.D.

Lore Ruttan Illustration

Visit my Etsy shop at http://www.etsy.com/shop/Paperlore


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