Thursday, January 05, 2012

"The Birds"

I have never heard anyone say that the European Starling is their favorite bird. After all, they are noisy, they poop all over your car, they eat most of the seeds in your birdfeeders, and they devour a farmer's crops. In the winter they gather in huge flocks, and sometimes you have to wonder if they are just birds, or something else altogether.

Just before sunset, I drove to Jeffersonville, IN, just across the river from Louisville, KY. Last week I saw a "blob" of birds, but couldn't take a photos since I was driving across the bridge at the time. You would agree that photographing birds while driving falls under the same category as texting while driving-- something that should not be done. Tonight I returned for some shots taken while NOT in a moving vehicle. The birds starting moving into neighborhood trees by twos, then tens, then dozens, chattering constantly. They make a variety of noises, none of which could be called melodic by any means. For no reason I could discover, they would all fly out of the tree at once.

Starlings can fly in large numbers, forming a "blob" in the sky, that appears, darkens, then disappears, depending on which direction the birds turn while in the air. In fact, coming up with a descriptive term is a challenge itself. Is it a blob, a flock, a swarm? Actually there is a term I'm not familiar with - a murmuration. How about that one! But it's hardly scary enough, and they certainly do not murmur. I always think of science fiction movies or horror stories at this sight.

Alfred Hitchcock's movie The Birds comes first to mind. Should I hide underground when the birds start swarming like this? How about the locust invasion in The Ten Commandments? I'm sure many a farmer thinks of them this way. Is it some super strange storm cloud, or how about an alien invasion?  As the cloud of birds changes shape, expanding and contracting, I wonder if it is some large overgrown amoeba-like organism. My imagination runs away quickly!

Why are all these birds flying over the middle of the Ohio River? Apparently they decided that the center span of the bridge (which now carries traffic for three interstate routes) is the best place to spend the night. They jostle each other for a spot on the girders - the girders that we just spent millions of dollars getting painted recently!

The sunset was beautiful, but driving home across the bridge was a little spooky as the birds continued to fill the air above, below and beside all the vehicles. I expect that any low flying bird went splat against a semi.

No comments: