Wednesday, September 28, 2011


We're in the midst of some amazing migratory activity here. Yesterday, I swear, a giant flock of seagulls was circling over the prairie for hours, completely silent, swooping up insects but never landing.

Saturday I was reading on the porch to an utter cacophany of chatter from a large flock of starlings that had taken up temporary residence in our cottonwood trees. I think they first staked out the fir trees at the edge of the property, where they sounded like some giant, creaking machinery. Then they moved in closer, filling the cottonwoods and really making a racket.

I finally roused myself and went to take a look. It was camera-worthy, so I went for the flip. I have a feeling starlings are what caused all the trouble for Alfred Hitchcock, as they really do travel in enormous groups. There are reports of them blackening the sky as they lift from a field. My starlings were not that numerous, but the sound and their black bodies filling the trees was ominous.

I took this video, which almost captures the sound. Turn your speakers all the way up and watch/listen for the spot, about 30 seconds in, when they fall into a sudden hush and swoop from a cottonwood at back to the ones along the driveway. The sudden silence and rush of wings took my breath away.

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