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Melissa Mayntz

The Physics of Flocks

By February 13, 2013

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Birds flock for many reasons, but scientists are only beginning to decipher the amazing coordination of flock formations. According the Phys.org, a new internationally coordinated study of European starlings has discovered that rather than monitor an entire flock, individual birds gauge their positions by just seven in-flight neighbors. This number yields the best coordination with the least energy expenditure, allowing birds to flock easily and safely. The study also examined flock geometry and the shapes of flocks birds form, learning that "fluffy pancake" shapes were the most efficient.

Have you seen a flock of starlings - a murmuration - in action and marveled at their aerobatics? Share your experiences in the comments!

Starling Flock
Photo Tim Regan


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