how do birds communicate while flying

A flock of starlings preparing to roost for the night is an awesome spectacle. Thousands of birds move in unison, creating a dynamic cloud of living creatures. Now, researchers have gotten at the mathematical heart of what makes those intricate aerial dances possible. Water, it turns out, is a better behavioral analogy than gas.

Researchers previously assumed that birds in a flock maintain a certain distance apart from one another, and that once a decision is made by one bird, it diffuses through the flock like gas, the New Scientist reports. Italian researchers analyzed the movements of starling flocks using a series of high-speed cameras that could track individual birds as they performed aerial acrobatics in unison.

The researchers found that a few birds clump closely together, and they are the ones that call the shots when it comes to turning, the New Scientist continues. However, there is no designated leader team; instead, the birds take turns. Once those birds begin to turn, the message spreads fast: about 20 to 40 meters per second, ScienceNOW reports, meaning a flock of 400 birds needs just about half a second to turn.

Algorithms that describe the flocks behavior, the researchers found, closely resemble those of superfluid helium, nicely demonstrating the fact that shared mathematical and physical principles permeate all facets of the natural world, ScienceNOW writes.

A flock of starlings preparing to roost for the night is an awesome spectacle. Thousands of birds move in unison, creating a dynamic cloud of living creatures. Now, researchers have gotten at the mathematical heart of what makes those intricate aerial dances possible. Water, it turns out, is a better behavioral analogy than gas.

The researchers found that a few birds clump closely together, and they are the ones that call the shots when it comes to turning, the New Scientist continues. However, there is no designated leader team; instead, the birds take turns. Once those birds begin to turn, the message spreads fast: about 20 to 40 meters per second, ScienceNOW reports, meaning a flock of 400 birds needs just about half a second to turn.

The researchers discovered that the algorithms used to describe the behavior of the flock resembled those used to describe superfluid helium, effectively illustrating how similar mathematical and physical principles underlie all aspects of the natural world, according to ScienceNOW.

Researchers previously assumed that birds in a flock maintain a certain distance apart from one another, and that once a decision is made by one bird, it diffuses through the flock like gas, the New Scientist reports. Italian researchers analyzed the movements of starling flocks using a series of high-speed cameras that could track individual birds as they performed aerial acrobatics in unison.

For some, such pragmatic applications of comprehending flock behaviors could be just as valuable as understanding the gods’ intentions. However, they’re probably not as useful as admitting that humans have already had an impact on flocks. In the past, starlings did not spend the winter in Rome in such large numbers, but other factors and climate change have made the city more comfortable for them. Many shorebird flocks are declining due to changes in their diets and habitats. Naturally, it is because of us that no one can now appreciate the sight of the passenger pigeon, one of the most magnificent flocking species.

Frank Heppner continues to challenge some of the most fundamental theories regarding flocking behavior, but he is optimistic that scientists will soon be able to explain many of these mysteries. For instance, he questions why the Roman starlings perform such amazing aerial maneuvers above their roosting locations for several minutes prior to making their descent. He asks, “What they do is not predator avoidance; if they really wanted to avoid falcons, wouldn’t they disappear into the trees more quickly?” “It’s inviting predators. ”.

In order to characterize this phenomenon, British evolutionary biologist William Hamilton first used the term “selfish herd” in 1971. He wrote that every flock member acts only in their own self-interest. To lessen their chances of being caught, all of the birds in a flock move toward the center of the group, which is the safest location, when a predator approaches. Juvenile shorebird observations have suggested that it might take them some time to understand this since they only gradually come to form cohesive congregations. Natural selection ensures that the birds that are least able to stay with the group will eventually be captured by predators.

Scientists working on the StarFLAG project are investigating how voters influence one another’s decisions and whether choosing locations for new bank branches may be an instance of flocking behavior.

“The starlings exhibit incredible flocking behaviors as they approach the roosts, and they are regularly attacked by falcons,” notes Carere. “They compress and decompact, split and merge, form ‘terror waves'”—pulses that quickly diverge from an advancing falcon. This appears amazing at first glance, much like Indian smoke signals. ”.

FAQ

How do birds fly synchronized?

Instead, scientists believe movements are coordinated by starlings observing what others around them are doing. Birds in the middle can see through the flock on all sides to its edge and beyond. Somehow they keep track of how the flock is moving as a whole and adjust accordingly.

How do birds not hit each other when flying?

To answer this question, researchers put parakeets (aka budgerigars) into an air tunnel and had them fly towards each other. They found that birds have evolved a simple way to avoid mid-air collisions: each bird always veers right and changes altitude.

How do birds decide who leads the V?

The birds at the front of the formation do not save as much energy as the birds in back because there is no updraft for them to fly in. That’s why the bird in the front of the formation will switch places and allow another bird to take the lead when it gets tired.

Do birds talk while flying?

While it’s a largely unseen migration, it’s not a silent one. Most of these birds vocalize while on the wing, making night flight calls, dubbed NFCs by scientists, that sound nothing like the better-known melodious breeding songs of spring.