What is a Group of Starlings Called?

 What is a Group of Starlings Called?

if you’re a bird lover you may want to ask the question, what is a Group of Starlings Called? A group of starlings is called a murmuration. Murmuration is derived from the Latin verb murmurare, which means “to murmur.”

The beauty of nature never fails to mesmerize us, and one of nature’s fascinating spectacles is the murmuration of starlings. These birds fly together in large groups, creating stunning aerial displays. But have you ever wondered what a group of starlings is actually called?

In this article, I will look at the answer to this intriguing question.

Let’s get into it!

The Basics of Starlings

Starlings are a species of birds known for their gregarious nature and remarkable flying abilities. They belong to the family Sturnidae and are characterized by their compact bodies, short tails, and dark, iridescent feathers. Starlings are highly adaptable and may be found in various habitats around the world, from grasslands to woodlands.

One fascinating aspect of starlings is their behavior. They are social creatures that live in large flocks, often numbering in the thousands. These flocks exhibit a remarkable ability to fly in synchronized formations, creating awe-inspiring patterns in the sky. This collective behavior allows starlings to better protect themselves from predators and share information within the group.

The Historical Significance

Throughout history, murmurations have held a special place in human culture and imagination. References to murmurations can be found in ancient literature, art, and folklore, symbolizing the beauty and wonder of nature. From Shakespeare’s poetic descriptions to ancient Greek mythology, murmurations have captivated the minds of humans across different eras and cultures.

The visual impact of murmurations has inspired artists to depict these breathtaking displays in various forms of art. Paintings, sculptures, and even tapestries have sought to capture the grace and elegance of starling murmurations. This historical significance highlights the enduring fascination and admiration humans have had for these aerial performances.

Naming a Group of Starlings

Collective nouns play an essential role in language, allowing us to uniquely identify and refer to groups of animals. When it comes to starlings, several names have been suggested to describe their collective gatherings. These titles attempt to convey the spirit of their collective behavior as well as the visual spectacle they produce.

What is a Group of Starlings Called?

The most commonly accepted collective noun for starlings is murmuration. This term accurately describes these birds’ extraordinary synchronized flight patterns. The ethereal murmuring sound and the fascinating visual spectacle lend themselves well to the name “murmuration” to characterize a flock of starlings.

Here are some other collective nouns for starlings:

  • Constellation
  • Ballet
  • Swarm
  • Chattering
  • Clutter
  • Congregation
  • Flight
  • Flock
  • Scintillation
  • Vulgarity

It’s worth noting that there is no one “correct” collective noun for starlings. Simply said, “murmuration” is the most often used and recognized term. Other words or phrases may be more acceptable in specific situations or for certain people.

The characteristics that led to the choice of this name include the synchronized movements, the cohesive nature of their flight, and the sense of unity that starlings display during their murmurations. These mesmerizing displays often leave observers in awe, reinforcing the appropriateness of the term “murmuration” for these gatherings.

The Term: Murmuration

The term “murmuration” is used to describe the phenomenon of starlings flying together in large, synchronized groups. It originates from the Latin word “murmuratio,” which means “a murmuring or muttering.” This term perfectly encapsulates the soft, continuous murmuring sound produced by the wings of thousands of starlings in flight.

Murmurations occur when starlings come together in the evening to roost for the night. They perform intricate aerial dances, forming ever-changing shapes and patterns in the sky. These displays are truly mesmerizing, with the birds moving as one cohesive entity, almost as if they were guided by an unseen force.

Alternative Names

While “murmuration” remains the most widely recognized term, alternative names have been proposed by different sources. Some suggest the term “constellation” to describe starling groups, drawing a connection to the celestial arrangements of stars in the night sky. This alternative name emphasizes the awe-inspiring nature of starling murmurations and their resemblance to the ethereal beauty of the stars.

Others propose the term “ballet” to capture the graceful movements and choreography exhibited during starling murmurations. The elegant twists, turns, and seamless transitions of the birds in flight evoke a sense of a carefully orchestrated ballet performance.

Highlighting the diversity and creativity in naming animal groups, these alternative names provide unique perspectives on starling murmurations and further contribute to the enchantment surrounding these awe-inspiring displays.

Popular Misconceptions

There are some common misconceptions about the collective noun for starlings. One misconception is that a group of starlings is called a “constellation.” However, as mentioned earlier, “murmuration” is the more widely accepted term among ornithologists and language experts.

Another misconception is that murmurations are solely for aesthetic purposes. While the visual beauty of starling murmurations is undeniable, these displays serve a functional role for the birds. Murmurations help starlings protect themselves from predators, share information about food sources, and communicate within the group.

It is important to dispel these misconceptions and provide accurate information to enhance our understanding of starlings and their collective behavior.

Cultural and Symbolic Significance

Starling murmurations have acquired significant cultural and symbolic meanings across different cultures and regions. In some cultures, murmurations are seen as a symbol of unity, cooperation, and the strength found in collective effort. They are often associated with themes of harmony and balance, inspiring human societies to strive for cooperation and collaboration.

The interpretation of starling murmurations also varies across different artistic traditions. In literature, they have been used as metaphors for human relationships, illustrating the power of unity and the beauty that may be achieved when individuals come together for a shared purpose.

The Wonders of Starling Murmurations

The scientific explanations behind starling murmurations are both fascinating and complex. When flying in large groups, starlings benefit from the “collective intelligence” of the flock. This means that individual birds interact with their neighbors, sensing their movements and adjusting their own flight accordingly. This coordination allows them to respond swiftly and efficiently to changes in the environment, such as evading predators or finding food sources.

Murmurations also offer advantages in terms of predator avoidance. The swirling movements and unpredictable patterns of the flock make it difficult for predators to single out individual birds. This coordinated behavior confuses potential threats while providing safety in numbers.

Scientists have conducted numerous research to understand the mechanics behind starling murmurations. These studies involve analyzing the movements of individual birds within a flock, exploring mathematical models, and using advanced technology to track their flight patterns. While there is still much to learn, these scientific endeavors unravel the mysteries and wonders of starling murmurations.


In conclusion, a group of starlings is called a “murmuration.” These mesmerizing displays of synchronized flight have captivated humans throughout history.

The term “murmuration” accurately captures the ethereal beauty of these gatherings, while also highlighting the collective nature of these birds. So, the next time you witness a stunning aerial ballet of starlings, remember that you are witnessing a murmuration, a phenomenon that embodies the magic of nature.

If this article is helpful, consider subscribing to my weekly newsletters for updates.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What is a Flock of Starlings Called?

A flock of starlings is called a murmuration. This is because the birds fly in a synchronized manner, creating a murmuring sound as their wings beat together.

Why Is It Called a Starling?

The name “starling” comes from the Old English word “stærlinc”, which means “little star”. This is because the birds have dark, iridescent feathers that sparkle in the sunlight, like stars.