Four and twenty blackbirds — with friends

The story broke a few days ago but I first learned of it this morning. In Cuauhtémoc, Mexico, hundreds of migratory yellow-headed blackbirds suddenly, seemingly, fell from the sky. And even ornithologists are puzzled, although such events are not without precedent. The prevailing theory seems to be that the birds were fleeing a predator and flew, en masse, into the ground. Most were able to fly away after the incident.

This particular video is about five minutes long, but I found it very interesting — even the unrelated question near the end: We see birds around us all the time but almost never see a dead one. Why? Where do they go? There’s no answer given, but it certainly makes one wonder …

*It should be noted that this was a large flock of migrating blackbirds. Starlings murmurate (see comments below); most other birds just flock or fly in formations like geese.

15 thoughts on “Four and twenty blackbirds — with friends

  1. The way they fly in those undulating clouds is fascinating. Makes me think of the Blue Angels & Thunderbirds doing their tight formation flight demonstrations and how quickly something can go wrong. The yellowheaded birds look so strange after a lifetime of normal black blackbirds!

    1. I’ve never understood how murmurations work and why the birds aren’t always crashing into each other in the air. The birds, that is, not the pilots. For those unfamiliar, here’s a video:

    1. I doubt we’ll ever know for sure unless maybe some pilot reports flying near or through the flock or maybe a meteorologist reports a downdraft in the area. Maybe another camera caught a view of something … an attacking predator perhaps?

  2. I find dead birds every once in a while here. They are easily picked up by scavengers. Bones are so light that even small animals can carry one away for a snack.

    1. Given the number of birds usually around, there must be a lot of predators to account for all of them … or some larger, very hungry predators. I don’t remember ever finding a dead bird.

... and that's my two cents