60,000 starlings over Utrecht

10th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

The sky above Utrecht neighbourhood Hoograven, was the site of a strange phenomenon Wednesday. Approximately 60,000 to 70,000 starlings took flight in a large cloud of symmetrical shape and form.

Such a large flock of birds over an urban area is extraordinary, said a spokesperson from the Dutch organisation for the protection of birds.

Adding to the spectacle were two of the neighbourhood's resident peregrine falcons. These birds are known to prey on starlings and indeed, the spokesperson said these two are “regularly snacking.” 

According to the spokesperson, the starlings have been in a swarm above Hoograven for the past few weeks, but over the last few days more birds have joined the cloud, making it unusually large.

These clouds of starlings can be a nuisance. The city of Utrecht says there have already been seven reports of bird-related nuisance filed in 2011. Most of these were linked to noise and excrement. 

Starlings join these "clouds" from late summer to early spring to avoid birds of prey which become disoriented by their fast-moving formations. The probability of an individual starling being caught by prey in such a cloud is very small, says the spokesperson.

When breeding season begins, coupling starlings retreat to nests. By the end of the summer, when their young are grown, the birds return to their groupings. 


© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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