It seems like the whole world is getting in the Christmas spirit this year. There are countless holiday specials from a variety of performers/ Christmas lights started going up earlier than usual this year, Now it seems that Mother Nature is getting into the spirit as well. At least, one murmuration of starlings in the UK is feeling festive.
The Stocking Starlings
Early this morning, the Fox News Instagram account shared a photo from Halifax, West Yorkshire photographer Ed Sykes. In the photo, a murmuration of European starlings takes the formation of a giant Christmas stocking.
The stunning photograph was taken just as the sun started to go down over a protected nature reserve in Castleford, England.
What Is a Murmuration?
A murmuration of starlings is pretty much nature’s air show. The birds swoop, dive, and reel through the air in unison. There can be thousands of birds inside one of these dancing clouds. Usually, these spectacles take place around sundown before the birds roost for the night. In England, they are usually seen around nature reserves such as the one in the photo above. .The site of a large murmuration can be absolutely breathtaking.
Ornithologists believe that starlings do this for several reasons. By moving in large numbers, they become harder to target by birds of prey. They are also able to keep warm and share information while they congregate.
European Starlings in North America
Right now, there are roughly 200 million individual starlings in North America. There were first brought to the continent by a group of Shakespeare enthusiasts in the nineteenth century. The group wanted to populate America with all of the birds that The Bard had mentioned in his plays.
The group released 110 starlings. The entire current population descends from those original 110 birds. While for many species the lack of genetic diversity would lead to birth defects and other issues, these birds show no ill effects.