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A murmuration of starlings at Gretna (2)


1350–1400; Medieval Latin murmuratio (murmuring, grumbling). The "starling" sense is probably derived from the sound of the very large groups that starlings form at dusk.


murmuration (countable and uncountable, plural murmurations)

  1. An act or instance of murmuring.
  2. (ornithology, collective) A flock of starlings.
    • 1893 September 27, The Bazaar, the Exchange and Mart, London, page 800, column 3:
      "Oh! I wasted most of my morning crawling to a murmuration of starlings, which I foolishly mistook for congregation of plover."
    • 2013 March 19, Ed Yong, “How the Science of Swarms Can Help Us Fight Cancer and Predict the Future”, in Wired[1]:
      The same dynamics can be seen in starlings: On clear winter evenings, murmurations of the tiny blackish birds gather in Rome’s sunset skies, wheeling about like rustling cloth.
    • 2017 July 29, “Solved, the riddle of starlings' aerial ballet: Birds use acrobatics to ward off creatures of prey”, in Daily Mail[2]:
      Professor Anne Goodenough, an applied ecologist at the University of Gloucestershire who led the research, said: ‘It appears murmuration has become the norm – a general way for the starlings to stay safe from predators.’
  3. An emergent order in a multi-agent social system.

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