Rome Skies Played Host To Beautiful Starling Murmuration; What Are They And Why Do They Form?

The skies of Rome look completely mesmerising as starling murmuration take over them.

by Vaishalee Kalvankar
Rome Skies Played Host To Beautiful Starling Murmuration; What Are They And Why Do They Form?

If you have been to Rome between October and February, I am sure you know what we are talking about! The skies of Rome look completely mesmerising as starling murmuration take over them. As winter walks in, this is a common sight in Rome, which is awaited by the locals and tourists alike. But what are they, and why do they form? Here’s all you need to know about this beautiful sight. 

Rome Skies Played Host To Beautiful Starling Murmuration

Rome’s sky witnesses the scene of an amazing ballet from October to February, when millions of starlings leave Northern Europe for their yearly migration.

The mesmerising murmuration turns the ancient backdrop of Central Rome into a natural theatre, enthralling onlookers with synchronised performances over the ruins, churches, and palaces dating back centuries.

The birds, which can grow up to 20 centimetres in length, graze during the day in rural areas before going back to the city to sleep. But as a result of the warmer effects of climate change on northern Europe, the starlings’ behaviour has changed, causing them to spend less time in Italy.

With estimates ranging from 500,000 to one million starlings gracing Rome this year, the numbers are still astounding.

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All About Starling Murmuration

Massive flocks of starlings known as murmuration create stunning shape-shifting clouds as they twirl, turn, swoop, and swirl across the sky.

Small clusters of starlings from the same location congregate just before dusk, above a shared roosting place. As the group gets bigger and bigger, they all move together in a coordinated aerial dance that creates stunning silhouettes against the setting sun.

Known as “partial migrants,” starlings are birds that migrate in certain areas but not in others. While starlings from colder parts of eastern Europe migrate to our beaches, our own starlings tend to stay put, increasing in number during autumn and winter to form genuinely spectacular flocks.

Murmurations always form above the group’s roosting area. With a final sweeping motion and a soothing whoosh of wings, the group appears to be told to funnel towards the ground as the number of starlings hits its zenith and the rest of the daylight starts to fade. A reed bed or a coastal pier might serve as a roost, a place for the group to congregate for warmth and to exchange stories about the best places to feed.

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“Nature Is The Greatest Magician” Say Netizens

Social media sites were filled with videos and pictures of starling murmurations, and many people were lucky to witness them live. People posted many videos on the social media site ‘X’ (formerly Twitter). 

Netizens were completely mesmerised looking at these videos and pictures. Many wished to witness it live someday. Some praised Mother Nature for such amazing phenomena that actually make one sit and wonder.

One of them wrote, ‘Nature is the greatest magician’, and others completely agreed with it. Another user said that she could watch these murmurations all day long.  

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What are your views?

Cover Image Courtesy: @buitengebieden/X(formerly Twitter)

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