A Circle in the Sky

A circle formation of flying birds

A circle formation of flying birds

A raptor (bottom right) was close by

A raptor (bottom right) was close by

A few fuzzy close ups of the raptor that I couldn't identify

A few fuzzy close ups of the raptor that I couldn’t identify

While near the Raritan River the other day, I noticed a circle in the sky that was moving rapidly. The circle was actually a large group of birds. The shape kept getting formed and reformed, over and over, while the birds moved westward.

I’ve seen flocks of european starlings before, flying in patterns in the air then landing en masse before taking off again, but this was different. The birds were very high up in the sky and they did not land. The pattern the birds made remained circular until they went out of sight.

What I didn’t see right away was the raptor in their proximity. The more I watched, it seemed that the formation of the circle was a way for the flock to protect and defend themselves from the threat. Although it looked like the raptor was after the group of birds, I suppose the birds could have been harassing the raptor too (like an angry mob). I’m guessing that the birds were starlings, although it could have been some other type of bird that flies together during migration. I couldn’t identify the raptor either because it was too far away.

Linking to Skywatch Friday.

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19 responses to “A Circle in the Sky

  1. Wow. We have a raptor rehabilitation center in our area and they love to release the birds in our area. We have a red tailed hawk that has staked a claim to our roof.

  2. Great captures

  3. I’ve never seen a flock fly a circular pattern before either.
    Amazing!
    Happy Sky Watch Friday!
    Lea

  4. Wow, great find. Awesome captures! I think it’s my first time to see birds flying in circular pattern.

  5. Love the circle of birds!

  6. Angry birds! Actually reminds me a lot of a school of bait fish when there is a predator near by… they form circular balls just like this.

  7. Great shot of the migrating birds. I don’t get to see these here in Bangalore skies. One has to go to outskirts of the city for this.

  8. Yeah, these small and swift birds are a delight to watch!

  9. Nice post! Sure looks like starlings to me. When they fly like this, wheeling and turning together, it makes it difficult for the falcon or hawk to effectively focus on and strike an individual bird. I recently filmed huge murmurations, as the large gatherings of starlings are called in Kansas City.
    http://outwalkingthedog.wordpress.com/2013/09/26/murmuration-of-starlings-in-kansas-city/
    Thousands upon thousands of birds. The second video in this post is The Falcon’s Lament, a 3-minute movie I made of the phenomenon that includes footage of a falcon hunting – unsuccessfully, hence the title. In KC, the birds eventually land for the night, but not before gathering and flying for 30 minutes or so.

  10. Very cool. I love seeing the starlings flying together in murmurations (even if they are starlings), but I’ve never seen birds together in a ball like this. Nice find.

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