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shape-shifting flocks

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  • Debbie Viess
    Driving home from Mendocino this past weekend, along Hwy. 101, just south of Healdsburg, my husband David and I saw an amazing sight. Flying over the vineyards
    Message 1 of 6 , Dec 1, 2005
      Driving home from Mendocino this past weekend, along Hwy. 101, just
      south of Healdsburg, my husband David and I saw an amazing sight. Flying
      over the vineyards and distant low hills in the Dry Creek area to the
      east were huge flocks of something. I say "something" because at first,
      it wasn't apparent what the flocks were composed of (insects? birds?
      confused bats?). What drew our eye was the way that the flocks formed
      and shifted, causing visibly recognizable shapes to appear, like a
      tadpole, and other weird geometric forms. This was both a little freaky,
      and a whole lot of amazing. In fact, it was so cool that we got off the
      freeway and found a frontage road, to try and get a better picture of
      the flock composition, and just to better groove on the amazing visuals.
      We found our flock, and it was composed of thousands of birds, but they
      were still too far away to get a species ID. My take on them was that
      they were blackbirds.the general size and shape were correct, as well as
      their agricultural location; flying blackbirds have always reminded me
      of mobile pluses and minuses, with their wing and body lengths about
      equal to the eye, and this flock exhibited those traits. But wow, what
      an amazing display of "flock consciousness". I have never seen anything
      quite like it.

      Once again, I am awed and humbled by my brush with the mysteries of
      nature.

      Debbie Viess
      Oakland, CA


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Steve Hampton
      Last week I witnessed an enormous flock of Starlings flying north at sunset over I-80 over the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area (between Sacramento and Davis). I
      Message 2 of 6 , Dec 1, 2005
        Last week I witnessed an enormous flock of Starlings flying north at sunset over I-80 over the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area (between Sacramento and Davis). I estimated the flock to be about a ½ mile long and averaged about 300 yards wide. Given their tight formation, if the birds were about 2 ft apart from each other (say, 1 bird every 4 sq ft), there would have been about 600,000 birds in this flock. They may have been tighter, and thus my estimate would be low.




        Steve Hampton
        ________________
        Resource Economist
        Office of Spill Prevention and Response
        California Dept of Fish and Game
        PO Box 944209
        Sacramento, CA 94244-2090
        -----------------------------------
        (916) 323-4724 phone
        (916) 324-8829 fax

        >>> "Debbie Viess" <amanitarita@...> 12/1/2005 11:47 AM >>>
        Driving home from Mendocino this past weekend, along Hwy. 101, just
        south of Healdsburg, my husband David and I saw an amazing sight. Flying
        over the vineyards and distant low hills in the Dry Creek area to the
        east were huge flocks of something. I say "something" because at first,
        it wasn't apparent what the flocks were composed of (insects? birds?
        confused bats?). What drew our eye was the way that the flocks formed
        and shifted, causing visibly recognizable shapes to appear, like a
        tadpole, and other weird geometric forms. This was both a little freaky,
        and a whole lot of amazing. In fact, it was so cool that we got off the
        freeway and found a frontage road, to try and get a better picture of
        the flock composition, and just to better groove on the amazing visuals.
        We found our flock, and it was composed of thousands of birds, but they
        were still too far away to get a species ID. My take on them was that
        they were blackbirds.the general size and shape were correct, as well as
        their agricultural location; flying blackbirds have always reminded me
        of mobile pluses and minuses, with their wing and body lengths about
        equal to the eye, and this flock exhibited those traits. But wow, what
        an amazing display of "flock consciousness". I have never seen anything
        quite like it.

        Once again, I am awed and humbled by my brush with the mysteries of
        nature.

        Debbie Viess
        Oakland, CA


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]




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      • Nathaniel Wander
        I have seen huge clouds of blackbirds behave like this in late fall and winter, always over farm fields in Polk County, Oregon, which structurally and
        Message 3 of 6 , Dec 1, 2005
          I have seen huge clouds of blackbirds behave like this in late fall and
          winter, always over farm fields in Polk County, Oregon, which structurally
          and functionally resembles California's central farming valleys.

          Nathaniel
        • Rusty Scalf
          People who model this sort of behavior view it as an emergent property, from a fairly simple set of basic behaviors followed by each member of the flock (or
          Message 4 of 6 , Dec 1, 2005
            People who model this sort of behavior view it as an 'emergent'
            property, from a fairly simple set of basic behaviors followed by each
            member of the flock (or school).

            See: http://www.red3d.com/cwr/boids/

            Rusty Scalf







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          • MiriamEagl@aol.com
            Years ago on my first trip to Texas (back in the 70s) I witnessed a huge mixed flock of blackbirds at Laguna Atascosa NWR that was literally carpeting the auto
            Message 5 of 6 , Dec 2, 2005
              Years ago on my first trip to Texas (back in the 70s) I witnessed a huge
              mixed flock of blackbirds at Laguna Atascosa NWR that was literally carpeting
              the auto tour road in between "lifts". I crawled into the middle of it and
              turned off the engine just to listen and experience it; it was almost like being
              in Hitchcock's movie!


              Mary Beth Stowe
              San Diego, CA
              MiriamEagl@...
              _www.miriameaglemon.com_ (http://www.miriameaglemon.com)



              In a message dated 12/1/2005 12:11:11 P.M. Pacific Standard Time,
              shampton@... writes:

              Last week I witnessed an enormous flock of Starlings flying north at sunset
              over I-80 over the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area (between Sacramento and Davis).
              I estimated the flock to be about a ½ mile long and averaged about 300 yards
              wide. Given their tight formation, if the birds were about 2 ft apart from
              each other (say, 1 bird every 4 sq ft), there would have been about 600,000
              birds in this flock. They may have been tighter, and thus my estimate would
              be low.








              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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