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Is It a Cloud? No, It's a Murmuration!

Easy to Read


What would you think if you saw this in the sky?

It moves across the sky at speed.

It keeps changing its shape.

It's big enough to see from far away.

It makes strange sounds.

These clouds are starling birds flying together.


A starling bird perched on a fence. Its black with white-blueish spots.

This is a starling.


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Flocks of starlings are called a murmuration.

Hundreds or thousands of starlings flying in a group is called a murmuration.

No one knows how they manage to move together.

Or why they do it.

It is a joy to watch them.


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Watch this video of an amazing murmuration.


Sophie Windsor Clive and Liberty Smith filmed this murmuration.

They were canoeing on the river Shannon in Ireland.

Then starlings started to fill the sky on the horizon.

The group of birds looked like one creature to them.

They felt it was something more than the usual rules of biology.

Sophie and Liberty are documentary filmmakers.

They hope their video will help people understand nature better.


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Starlings live in different regions all over the world.

A murmuration of starlings in western Asia.


There are many different types of starlings.

This is a starling in Tanzania in Africa.


This starling is in Bali in Asia.


A starling in Turkey in Asia.


A starling in India in Asia.


A murmuration of starlings in Scotland in Europe.


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Starlings came to North America because of William Shakespeare.

William Shakespeare lived 450 years ago in England.


William Shakespeare wrote famous plays for the theater.

He lived 450 years ago in England.

He mentioned starlings in his plays.

A Starling in the USA, North America.


Starlings didn't live in North America.

Then, 130 years ago Shakespeare fans had an idea.

They wanted every bird mentioned in Shakespeare's plays to live in North America.

So they brought starlings to North America.

They released them in New York City’s Central Park.

Now about 200 million starlings live in North America.


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Starlings can sound just like car alarms

Starlings can mimic different sounds.

Mimic means to copy.

Starlings can mimic other birds, animals, even car alarms.

No one knows why they like to mimic.

It could be to trick animals that want to harm them.

It could be to attract mates.

Or maybe they do it just for fun.


Some people don't like starlings.

A starling on a feeding station.


It's fun to watch different kinds of birds in the garden.

People put feeding stations in their garden to attract all kinds of different birds.

But then starlings come and gobble up everything in the feeding station.

Starlings are used to being part of large groups.

So they grab their share quickly.

They don't leave anything to eat for the other birds.

So all the other birds stay away.

That's why people who want to watch different kind of birds don't like starlings.


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In some regions starlings are in danger.

A starling in England in Europe.


The British Royal Society for Protection of Birds studied starlings.

They found out that starling populations are reduced by 80%.

This is mainly because of:

  • farm chemicals kill the insects they eat

  • there are fewer places that are suitable to build a nest

This helps the starling population recover:

  • avoid using chemicals in the garden

  • add a pond

  • wildflower meadows

  • compost heaps

  • log piles


Watch this video of a starling feeding its hungry chicks.


Watch this video of a murmuration of starlings.


*Quotes are edited to Easy to Read*

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