A murmuration of sheep

Sheep herding, New Zealand style. It takes some well-trained dogs to pull this off, and you have to look closely to even see them in this video from aerial photographer Tim Whittaker. It was posted to YouTube in February 2016 and has almost two million views. It’s easy to see why. The movement is as mesmerizing as a starling murmuration. Of course, the sheep are being directed, while the birds manage it all by themselves — and without knocking each other out of the sky.

 



Categories: Green, video content

22 replies

  1. I’ve watched these dogs in action, in Australia and I imagine that the Kiwi’s operate in the same way, I also imagine that the dogs are responding to the whistles of their masters, they are rated as the most intelligent dogs in the world, up this way.

    Pity they had to have the music, instead of the sounds from ground level, where all the action is, the whistles and the calls and the animals, the dogs operate usually in silence so as not to frighten the sheep, the sheep are not so concerned at making a noise; it’s very exciting believe me. .

    • At least it was quiet music. Too often great videos are ruined with loud, unpleasant, intrusive music.

      I think they are rated the most intelligent dogs by everyone. And I don’t doubt it. They are absolutely amazing. If they weren’t also very high energy, I’d probably have owned one by now.

      • To actually see them doing this live is truly The Greatest Show on Earth,
        When I was living and working at Carnarvon in WA many years ago, there was an elderly retired publican, and his wife, and they had two of these dogs. They were named aptly enough for ex publicans ” Whisky and Soda”” There is a brand of Scotch named ‘Black & White’ and the dogs were black & white; they were brilliant to watch when we’d go for a stroll along the beach.
        Without being told they instinctively started to round up the hundreds of seagulls along the beach. Of course they didn’t have the same success as they would have done with a mob of sheep, but it didn’t stop or deter them from trying to do what came naturally. They were beautiful, there was no way I could ever forget them as you see.
        I’m not sure what you mean by high energy when referring to dogs.

        • I misspoke above and meant to say if they weren’t so high energy, meaning very active, needing and wanting lots of exercise. I couldn’t do right by a dog like that. I’m too sedentary.

          • I believe those dogs are mainly border collies and they are high energy, but they are wonderful with children. I grew up with one and loved her dearly. We called her Happy and she radiated that happiness to us always. Unfortunately she nipped a neighbor boy who was constantly abusing her and we had to move her out to the country for a time. She was smart and would sit waiting for the stoplight to change so she could cross the street and a truckdriver miscalculated his turn and ran over her and she died. We cried forever in mourning — in fact, tears just came to my eyes unbidden.

            We never had another dog quite like her, but I will never forget her…

            • So very sad to hear that. Our dogs are family members, and we never forget them. I’ve had three shelties in my life, and although shelties aren’t used for herding anymore, the instinct and intellect are certainly still there.

  2. Loved the starlings that was beautiful especially when they came flying toward me and the sound of their wings beating rapidly.
    Strange that i wrote about some starlings in my last post.

    • This was the first video of a murmuration I’ve seen that included the actual sound of the wings instead of music or a voiceover. It still amazes me that they can do this and not leave a trail on crippled, dying birds in their path.

  3. I love these–and the shepherding one makes me miss my Big Senile Dog–who lived a city dog’s life, but would have loved to have been on that field.

  4. What we need is a pack of sheepdogs to perform a murmuration of automobiles during a traffic jam.

  5. The dance of the sheep being herded is fascinating, but the starlings in movement, accompanied by the beat of their wings is breathtaking!

  6. Fascinating. What dogs.
    Reminds me of those fish that swim in schools that act like one large creature.

    • I thought about the fish while watching the birds. In both cases, many of their turns are an effort to avoid predators. Which doesn’t lessen at all the fascination with their mass movements.

"Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance." ~ Plato

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