Awesome things in life: a startling murmuration
I have been always amazed by many natural phenomena, one of my favorite examples is the murmuration or a flock of starlings. The starling is a very peculiar bird very well known for its imitations of a variety of avian species, they include a repertoire of about 15-20 distinct imitations. The starlings are generally a highly social family. According to an article in WIRED, one of my favorite magazines “starling flocks, are best described with equations of “critical transitions” — systems that are poised to tip, to be almost instantly and completely transformed, like metals becoming magnetized or liquid turning to gas. Each starling in a flock is connected to every other. When a flock turns in unison, it’s a phase transition (like in thermodynamic systems)”.
Starlings easily turn when the neighbors do, but still the physiological mechanism for this to happen remains unknown specially when these birds are separated by long distances in meters and by hundreds of other birds. So the universal principle that rules this behavior (because according to the magazine it also seems to operate in proteins and neurons) is yet to be understood.