Rory champion photography


A prize to whoever guesses the number

Witnessing a starling murmuration, you could be forgiven thinking that starling numbers are fit and healthy.

According to the RSPB though, they are, like other garden bird varieties, in serious decline - starling numbers have dwindled to 20% of their historic population in recent years. It is believed this is due to modern farming techniques contributing to a widespread loss of suitable pasture on which they thrive.

Starlings are certainly a social bird, often seen sitting in groups on telegraph lines and, more spectacularly, in these mass-flocks before dusk as they prepare to roost.

If you are lucky enough to watch this phenomenon, it provides a thrilling spectacle either from a distance, where you can see the mesmerising, baitball-like patterns the flocks create, or up close when you can hear nothing but the sound of hundreds of thousands of birds twittering in the sky above. The flock pictured above, at Lopham Fen in Suffolk, came so close to the ground that I thought I'd be swept up into a bird-based vortex like Dorothy's house!

You can help stop the decline in garden birds by:

  1. Put out bird food like nuts and seed
  2. Construct bird boxes
  3. Prevent cats from being able to access bird feeding areas

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