I have witnessed starling murmurations before, but always at a great distance.
So when I passed a huge flock of starlings murmurating their little 4-chambered hearts out in a pasture off US-27, I pulled over just as fast as I could.
The dogs, Bear and Coquina, were with me, but this time they had to sit in the JEEP while I bird-nerded out at the pasture fence.
Before me, just a few feet away, thousands of birds flowed like water... like intelligent water.
They were close enough that the swoosh of thousands of wing pairs actually sounded like water.
(I think on the video, the passing traffic sounds drown that out a bit.)
The sky dynamics of the murmuration as seen in the first video is wonderful and the part of this Sky-Tango that I had seen before.
And yes, I am always blown away by that, although as previously mentioned, usually from a great distance.
But this time, I was up close and personal to the ground level choreography and that was just as gobsmackingly amazing as the shimmering blur of an airborne murmuration.
At times the birds poured, at near ground level, through the pasture fence and onto the grassy road shoulder where I was.
We were that close.
Here is the part that I had never witnessed.
When the flock was descending and flowing along the ground, birds from above continuously advanced the leading edge of the ground flock by landing together directly in front of the leading edge.
In effect, row by fluid row, they replaced the front line. It was completely efficient, organized, and fluid.
And beautiful to behold.
On the ground, they seemed to be working the pasture grass for food, ... seeds, bugs ... whatever.
In this system, everybody got fresh ground to search, because every row landed in front of the leading edge at that moment, and everyone moved forward until something triggered a flight to a new area where the same systematic movement happened again.
Here's a little bit of the science behind these bird brains from NPR.
The full article is here.
Every day I work, I wonder ... "What am I missing out there?"
It's events like this that keep that question swirling in my head.