As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Why birds of a feather flock together: Hypnotic displays are used to confuse predators



Researchers used a computer simulation to create a swirling mass of starlings
A human was asked to pick out one of the birds - as a predator would do 
The task becomes exceptionally difficult and is known as the confusion effect

Other possible benefits of the large flock are that more birds can be on the lookout for predators at any one time 

Published: 17:35, 17 January 2017 | Updated: 00:01, 18 January 2017

Birds of a feather flock together, as anyone who has seen a dazzling gathering of starlings in the sky will know.

But why the birds congregate in vast numbers – called murmurations – has been one of nature's mysteries. 

Now scientists have shown that the hypnotic, aerobatic displays confuse any would be predators such as hawks.


Birds of a feather flock together, as anyone who has seen a dazzling gathering of starlings in the sky will know 

Scientists have shown that the hypnotic, aerobatic displays confuse any would be predators such as hawks. 

Other possible benefits of the large flock are that more birds can be on the lookout for predators at any one time.

It is also possible that as 'news' of a predator is passed through the group from bird to bird, it leads to the flock taking evasive action.

To test their theory, scientists from the Universities of Bristol and Groningen, in the Netherlands, used a computer simulation creating a swirling mass of starlings.

The predator in the simulation has to select an individual starling to attack – and in the case of the computer simulation a human was asked to attempt to pick out one of the birds.

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