Stand on the pier by our #starlingsroost café at sunset between November
and March and you’re likely to witness huge flocks of starlings dancing in the
sky whilst you are enjoying a nice hot drink with a slice of cake . Find out
more about this amazing spectacle.
Brighton’s starlings are a mixture of a small number which live locally all the year round, and thousands which migrate from elsewhere in the UK and from the colder reaches of Eastern Europe to spend their winter here. Cold kills more birds than any other thing, so by coming to England’s South Coast, starlings take advantage of our relatively mild winter conditions.
The first reason is strength in numbers. By gathering, flying and roosting together starlings protect each other, both from predators and from the cold. Making shapes during the main murmuration at dusk, starlings are more likely to be attacked by predators such as sparrowhawks and peregrines.
The Science of Murmurations Murmurating is partly a survival mechanism about strength in numbers, but when we watch the birds, and when we asked top scientists involved in The Starflag Project started in 2005 in Rome about this we all came to the same conclusion - they do it because they love it. The murmuration is definitely a kind of dance which they enjoy together as a large group, just as we enjoy large social activities such as dancing and going to festivals.
The same group of research scientists used statistical analysis of the footage to map the interactions between the birds and calculated that on average each starling was able to track and keep place with seven birds around it in the horizontal plane.
Each morning the Brighton starlings fly out in small groups, as far as 20 miles, in search of insects and worms. Starlings eat a lot of daddy longlegs larvae (known as leatherjackets), small grubs which live in the soil.
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds say that the cause of starling declines is unknown, and yet many scientists have consistently been saying that it is a feature of the biodiversity crisis driven by the widespread use of agricultural poisons. Industrial pesticides and herbicides are systematically killing every last thing in the soil from microbes to invertebrates. The rate of the UK decline is staggering. 150 starlings have vanished from the UK every hour since 1980.
We need all do our part by:
1. Stop using agricultural poisons
2. Increase biodiversity rich habitats - starlings love wildflower meadows, organic gardens and pastures
3. Provide nesting sites/boxes. Do you want to make one? Follow this link! Create a cosy starling home
4. Provide winter feed, Discover how to make a bird cafe in your garden
5. Avoid disturbing starling roosts
6. Reduce light pollution (naturally dark skies are good for insects and birds) '
7. Bird baths. Like all birds, starlings are prone to
get a few parasites and need a good wash to keep their plumage healthy.here an amazing idea to build the perfect bird bath