Sengkang residents in awe as hundreds of migratory starlings flock & swirl in a beautiful dance

Also spotted in Yishun, Daurian Starlings migrate to Singapore to escape the harsh winter of Northern Asia.

Zi Shan Kow | October 06, 2021, 04:46 PM

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Migratory season is upon us again, and some Sengkang residents have been fortunate enough to witness an incredible spectacle by some of the migratory birds.

Hundred of birds flocking in the skies

A large flock of birds was witnessed flying in synchrony above a HDB block in a video shared by Shin Min Daily News.

Hundreds of birds were seen breaking up and coming together in a mesmerising formation, while the flock swelled and meshed together in a series of twists and turns.

Submitted by a reader, it was reported that the video was taken on the evening of Oct. 1, from Sengkang Block 318A Anchorvale Link.

Such flocking behaviour by starlings is known as murmuration, likely performed by a migrant species known as the Daurian Starling in this instance.

Also spotted in Yishun

On the Facebook group "Bird Sightings", user Richard Lee and other bird watchers have also recently spotted a similar starling swarm at Yishun Dam and Yishun Street 22.

Lee said that they arrived in the late afternoon, and the flock roosted in a tall tree in the evening.

Photo courtesy of Richard Lee.

Photos courtesy of Richard Lee.

Daurian Starlings

Daurian Starlings are also known as purple-backed starlings, and are common visitors in Singapore during the year end.

Photo courtesy of Kenneth Cheong/FB.

Photo courtesy of Kenneth Cheong/FB.

They are found in Eastern Mongolia, Southeast Russia, North Korea, Northeast, and Central China, according to the Singapore Birds Project.

These migratory birds travel south to escape the cold winter in the north, typically arriving in Singapore in September or October.

They tend to flock at dusk, and form murmurations above their communal roosting site.

Why and how does this happen?

While the display is impressive, starlings most likely murmurate to confuse predators.

Like swarming fish, the complex and seamless flocking pattern is created without the presence of a leader.

With some mathematical modelling, researchers believe that the birds engage in this collective behaviour by simply coordinating their movements with that of their seven closest neighbours.

From a simple rules, a complex and dynamic pattern is created.

In 2012, the Bird Ecology Study Group estimated that the migratory starling flock had between 30,000 and 50,000 birds, and managed to record their flight and roost in Yishun:

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Top images by Kenneth Cheong and Shin Min Daily News