Movements in Murmuration

File:Starling murmuration.jpg
Image Description: A murmuration of starlings in the air. The sky is a light orange color. There are bare trees with no leaves beneath the murmuration. This image was taken from the Geograph project collection. See this photograph’s page on the Geograph website for the photographer’s contact details. The copyright on this image is owned by Walter Baxter and is licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license.

“Starlings’ murmuration consists of a flock moving in synch with one another, engaging in clear, consistent communication and exhibiting collective leadership and deep, deep trust. Every individual bird focuses attention on their seven closest neighbors and thus manage a large flock cohesiveness and synchronicity (at times upwards of over a million birds).”

-Sierra Pickett

“My dream is a movement with such deep trust that we move as a murmuration, the way groups of starlings billow, dive, spin, dance collectively through the air — to avoid predators, and, it also seems, to pass time in the most beautiful way possible. When fish move in this way, they are shoaling. When bees and other insects move in this way, they are swarming. I love all the words for this activity.

“Here’s how it works in a murmuration/shoal/swarm: each creature is tuned in to its neighbors, the creatures right around it in the formation. This might be the birds on either side, or the six fish in each direction. There is a right relationship, a right distance between them — too close and they crash, too far away and they can’t feel the micro-adaptations of the other bodies. Each creature is shifting direction, speed, and proximity based on the information of other creatures’ bodies.

There is a deep trust in this: to lift because the birds around you are lifting, to live based on your collective real-time adaptations. In this way thousands of birds or fish or bees can move together, each empowered with the basic rules and a vision to live. Imagine our movements cultivating this type of trust and depth with each other, having strategic flocking in our playbooks.”

-adrienne maree brown, Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds, page 71.

2 thoughts on “Movements in Murmuration

  1. Having just read an article on Christian Nationalism, I truly appreciated the grace and unpredictability of a murmuration. It’s antithesis springs to mind: soldiers marching in fascist lockstep. One is a creation of God, the other of man.


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