Places to see starling murmurations in the US?

I would love to see this spectacular phenomenon in person. There are lists of the best places in the UK to see them, but what about in the US? Starlings are all over the US, though maybe not in such big flocks as in Europe.

I have seen them here in the southeast. Once heading to FL driving through GA we paralleled a huge swirling one for many miles. You might try the Cornell University birding site for info. I’ll ask my daughter and her husband if a US list is available. Sarah did some research with Starlings and JD is a dedicated birder. So they might know something. Here is a link on the how and why of murmurations.

Oops here is the link,
https://www.allaboutbirds.org/how-do-starling-flocks-create-those-mesmerizing-murmurations/

Just to be precise, “murmuration” is the term for a flock of starlings, not the mesmerizingly fluid behavior of a murmuration of starlings while in flight. It looks like the word is evolving to include that meaning, but since many different species exhibit coherent schooling behavior, it may be unnecessarily species-specific. Just sayin’…

Having said that, I would really like to see a flocking murmuration in person. I have seen the small flock of puffins at the Central Park Zoo in NYC exhibit coherent schooling while ‘flying’ underwater - a small flock, granted, but enjoyable to watch and it seemed no one else noticed.

So here is what I heard from JD. He isn’t aware of a US list like the one the UK has. However. he said large open areas outside of big cities might be an area to consider, and that he doubts they do this during nesting season.

The huge one I watched while driving through GA was in a rural area south of Augusta perhaps around Metter with fields and forest. They were headed south and so was I. I must have watched them for perhaps 15 minutes before I lost sight of them. I have seen others but this one was really impressive and when I first saw it way up ahead had no idea how big it was until getting closer.

We see those out our back window in the early morning and at dusk–I think mostly in the fall.

Thanks for the tips! I have seen a small local flock swirling like that—beautiful!—and am thinking a road trip to one or more of the Great Plains areas would be my best prospect. And they don’t require a cross-country trip from home.

Not doing it during nesting season would make sense. Crows that are so vocal and ubiquitous during other times of the year suddenly get quiet and “discreet” during nesting season, from what I observed during a few years of getting to know them.

“Large open areas outside of big cities” also makes sense. Starlings might get shot in masses in large agricultural areas. But near cities, those open areas might be either wildlife protection lands or undeveloped land that has not yet been scraped for human habitation.

I will contact Audubon chapters near cities such as Denver. I remember that Audubon had national, state, and local levels of membership. Not sure whether to join at the state or local level now. In WA, we joined national and local because our town had a very active group.

Just now I rejoined All About Birds, too.

Pikabike’s comment reminded me that flocking pigeons used to be common in the outer boroughs in NYC. There were two large rooftop coops in Astoria Queens in the 80s, not sure they exist anymore. Still at least one in the Bronx, I see the flock some mornings on the drive to work - a nice break from urban decay.

Where I live (Denmark - a very flat country; Ohio heights divided by 3), we have a lot of murmurations in the superflat marshland in the south of the country. As far as I know, we do not have them anywhere else.

I wonder if this flatness is a requirement for the murmurations, so you will have to look for similar landscapes in the US.

I suspect an abundant grain supply.

Pikabike - while we mostly consider starlings to be winged rats here, I have never seen or heard any evidence of them being shot in masses. That would be an exercise in futlity. We got 'em here in the ag areas. West end of the Treasure Valley, you can see the murmurations flying at times in late summer and fall. There is an area of agriculture that borders river and game reserve, if that matters - and that’s where we usually see the flights.

I witnessed a spectacular synchronized show overhead while race training paddling on the St. Lawrence River near Alexandria Bay a few years back.

Stare into the lava lamp,
entrance with mystery,
schooling perhaps the gathered thought,
packed sardines flash through sea,

whirled sparks to ash arise from fires,
man warms in post creation,
to ponder twists that ink cold air,
fly off in murmuration

@canoeswithduckheads said:

Excellent!
Reminds me of some lines from the song “Summer Lightning” sung by Garnet Rogers.

“We are brief as summer lightning.
We are swift as shallow"s flight.
We are sparks that spiral upward
in the darkness in the night.
We are frost upon a widow.
We won’t pass this way again.
In the end dear only love remains.”

I mostly see large "flocks fly over our house in summer and fall, but they haven’t been as big as large as the one I saw in GA. It had to be thousands of birds. It was really spectacular!

@Steve_in_Idaho said:
Pikabike - while we mostly consider starlings to be winged rats here, I have never seen or heard any evidence of them being shot in masses. That would be an exercise in futlity. We got 'em here in the ag areas. West end of the Treasure Valley, you can see the murmurations flying at times in late summer and fall. There is an area of agriculture that borders river and game reserve, if that matters - and that’s where we usually see the flights.

We have plenty of big aggie spaces here but it’s not flat for long distances. The San Luis Valley might be a good place, though. It’s known more for growing potatoes than grain. There is widespread irrigation. To the northwest, there is a region famous for growing beans with minimal water. Since it sounds like waterways + grain or other food fields + large flattish open stretches near sheltered places might be part of the formula, the SLV seems the best bet of places within about half a day’s drive.

It’s nice to know of a known sighting location, though. Steve, thanks for the tip about the west end of Treasure Valley. Late summer and fall would be a nice time to combine a paddling trip with watching for starling murmurations.