Posted tagged ‘starlings’

Falcon Hunts Starling Murmuration (video)

October 4, 2013

I had a great time making this three-minute movie of a falcon hunting a spectacular starling murmuration right in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. A murmuration is a massive gathering of starlings.  There are so many birds flying they look sometimes like dark snow falling or a sky full of shooting stars. Other times the flock forms strange helix-like shapes, and it’s hard to believe it isn’t a giant organism with a single brain. One evening as I watched, a peregrine falcon swooped in, looking for dinner.

If you enjoy The Falcon’s Lament, please share it with others.

A peregrine is a usually an effective predator of birds on the wing. But in the on-going evolutionary offense-defense dance of predator and prey, the starling murmuration throws the falcon off and thwarts its ability to kill. Fascinating.

To see starlings as individuals rather than as members of a great, heaving cauldron of birds, you may enjoy:
Eating and Keeping Cool in NYC Heat Wave, Fledgling Style

And for some raw footage of the starlings gathering in downtown Kansas City, watch Murmuration of Starlings in Kansas City.

Murmuration of Starlings in Kansas City

September 26, 2013
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Note the bird. A bird plays an important role in my new play, as does a character called, well, Bird.

I just got home from almost a month in Kansas City, Missouri, where I was in rehearsal for my new play, Red Badge Variations, about five young soldiers in a remote outpost in Afghanistan. If you’d like to know more about the play, you can listen to a public radio interview with me and director, Kyle Hatley. Or read about the play and Logan Black, our military advisor, in the Kansas City Star.

But this post is about birds. One day during a ten-minute break from rehearsal, I received an urgent text message from director Kyle Hatley: “Come to the loading dock. Where you can see the sky.”  The loading dock is where the many smokers in the company gather at every break to toxify their young, healthy bodies.

On the dock with Jake Walker, Kyle Hatley, Jacob Cullum, Matt Leonard and Logan Black

On the dock with Jake Walker, Kyle Hatley, Jacob Cullum, Matt Leonard and Logan Black

I hate that these guys smoke so much. But if it hadn’t been for those regular escapes to the loading dock, I might never have learned that a huge flock of starlings, known as a murmuration, gathers every evening near downtown Kansas City.

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Out past the loading dock is a driveway, and visible from the driveway is a patch of sky. There, Kyle discovered, the starlings gather and wheel in formation. Below is a clip of the cast watching the starlings. You have to realize that I was filming only a small percentage of the birds. Whenever my camera was pointed one way, there were many more birds in other parts of the sky.

And here is The Falcon’s Lament, showing a falcon that appeared one day in search of a starling dinner. Enjoy!


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