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Have you ever watched a large flock move “as one big unit?” The larger you look, the less appealing you will be to a predator. But no matter what a flock is called, it always has both benefits and problems for the birds that m… Not all flocks are comprised of the same species of birds. The truth is that birds “flock” for many reason and each has its advantages. The problems with flocks include: Despite the risks, the advantages of flocking are great enough that many different types of birds assemble in small, medium, and large groups for different reasons. Melissa Mayntz has been a birder and wild bird enthusiast for 30+ years. Late summer and fall is the time that we really begin to notice large groups of birds (flocks). I know that I was taught at a young age, that the birds are gathering up to head south. She has over 16 years experience writing about wild birds for magazines and websites. Hopefully everyone will get a chance to eat as well as watch for predators. The disadvantage is that the more visible you are, the more attention you draw to yourself. Birds of a feather, flock together. Many bird species are gregarious and form flocks for different reasons. Introducing "One Thing": A New Video Series, The Spruce Gardening & Plant Care Review Board, The Spruce Renovations and Repair Review Board. If a predator comes along, there should be enough “bodies” to increase you chance of survival. Let’s follow them! I’ve seen old movies of thousands and thousands of grackle, red-winged blackbirds, cowbirds and others being killed in a split second in the name of “animal control.” This occurred regularly back in the 50s and 60s with much of it happening right here in the Midwest. Flocks are so prevalent in some bird species that these groups of birds have special names, such as a raft of ducks, a charm of finches, a horde of ravens, or any other of the names for flocks of birds. Flocks of birds have also been known to attack or chase … The name "boid" corresponds to a shortened version of "bird-oid object", which refers to a bird-like object. The flocks that get the least favorable press are the giant blackbird flocks of fall and winter. Flocks may be different sizes, occur in different seasons, and may even be composed of different species that can work well together in a group. “They compact and decompact, split and merge, form ‘terror waves’ ”—pulses that move away from an approaching falcon in a split second. Some even thought that flocking could not be easily explained with current science. In a flock, birds can fly in among each other and move around to potentially confuse the predator. THE NORTHLAND'S LARGEST SELECTION OF FEEDERS, SEED MIXES & BIRDING SUPPLIES. By using The Spruce, you accept our, How to Attract New Birds to Your Backyard. The Spruce uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. I know that I was taught at a young age, that the birds are gathering up to head south. His paper on this topic was published in 1987 in the proceedings of the ACM SIGGRAPH conference. It always has both benefits and problems for the birds that make it up. The behavior is fascinating, but the noise and the mess are horrific. Waterfowl species like the Canada Goose are famous for flocking. The more eyes you have searching for food and predators, the better. From a roaming band of foraging finches to a stupendous migrating group of geese, flocks of birds can be an amazing sight for birders to enjoy. However, careful study … The next time you get the chance to watch them, try to keep count of how many heads are up and how many are down eating at the same time. Late summer and fall is the time that we really begin to notice large groups of birds (flocks). It is common, especially a little later in fall, to find mixed foraging flocks. Understanding why birds flock can help birders better understand bird behavior and how a flock of birds can win the fight for survival that all birds face. They can also confuse predators by suddenly splitting into several smaller groups and darting off in different directions. In this example, the birds follow three simple rules that together cause the flock / swarm behavior. That enjoyment can be even more satisfying when birders recognize how important those flocks are for birds' survival and just how clever group cooperation can be. Obviously, there is strength in numbers. If you have ever been unfortunate enough to have one of these mass of feathers roost in a patch of trees near you, you know what I mean. Why do birds of a feather flock together? Flocking / swarming behaviors are an example of emergent behaviors, where complex global behavior can arise from the interaction of simple local rules. The name of the game is survival. Many bird species are gregarious and form flocks for different reasons. Boids is an artificial life program, developed by Craig Reynolds in 1986, which simulates the flocking behaviour of birds. Their wings and flight flocks are less important, but they still group together on the ground.

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