[Tweeters] mutteration on murmuration

Jerry Broadus jbroadus at seanet.com
Mon Nov 9 21:39:32 PST 2015


My old Oxford English Dictionary provides, as the first definition for murmuration, the act of murmuring, and as the second "a company of starlings". This latter is said to date to late 15th century English. Because of that date reference, I suspect it came from the "Book of Saint Alban," which had a section on the names for groups of animals, which "gentleman hunters" could use, generally to impress others. Those collective names actually had earlier origins. To me, this raises the possibility that murmuration refers to a flock of starlings, doing whatever, and. not necessarily flying at all.

Jerry Broadus
Puyallup, WA


> On Nov 9, 2015, at 8:31 PM, Barbara Deihl <barbdeihl at comcast.net> wrote:

>

> Now that someone on the new Facebook Western Washington Birders public group has posted about a murmuration of Snow Geese, i sense that maybe, in the interest of education, it is time to revisit a definition of murmuration. This was a discussion on Tweeters a year or 2 ago, and I remember someone's video from a kayak, maybe up in the San Juans somewhere (or elsewhere) and Bud Anderson's mention that within such a huge group of starling-sized birds doing the wonderful sky dance, is usually a predator bird like a Peregrine Falcon, stimulating the massive sweeps and swerves of the members of the flock. I do not recall if we Tweets, actually formulated a definition of a murmuration that would help folks determine if what they are seeing and hearing, is a true murmuration. Or does it matter? In some online research I did this afternoon, starlings were the bird primarily featured, with a mention that sometimes other small birds mix in with them. So, is bird size an issue? Bird color? Does movement style have to be that turn-on-a-dime swerviness and up-and-down wave action ? Do the birds need to 'murmur' in a specific way or does something like cawing or 'honking' eliminate a bird family from being allowed into the category of 'murmurating' birds ?

>

> Here's a link to that NWCN video from Sun. night, that brought up the questions again, that Caryn and Devorah spoke to in posts today, and Sue, a friend, asked me about last night.

>

> http://www.nwcn.com/media/cinematic/video/75434740/flock-of-crows-puts-on-a-show-in-renton/

>

> If you know or recall some truths that are a part of the definition of "a murmuration", please feel free to step into the conversation. If not, then some of us will just continue to mutter about it for awhile :-)

>

>

> Barb Deihl

> Matthews Beach Neighborhood - NE Seattle

> barbdeihl at comcast.net

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