murmuration

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English[edit]

A murmuration of starlings at Gretna (2)

Etymology[edit]

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.

Noun[edit]

murmuration (plural murmurations)

  1. An act or instance of murmuring.
  2. (ornithology, collective) A flock of starlings.
    • 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.

Further reading[edit]