17 thoughts on “Starling Murmurations over the Roman Synagogue Last Sabbath

  1. Sheila Ryan

    Brilliant. During starling migrations near my house out in the back of beyond in southern Illinois, I often climbed out the dormer window onto the steeply pitched roof and sat, chin in hands, gaping in astonishment.

  2. Derek White Post author

    I’m always surprised (and glad) that in the same way people travel to the Arctic just to see the northern lights, that people don’t flock to Rome to witness the storni. I see it every evening these months and it still blows my mind (probably a big (strange) attractor of why i’m here–an unseen force pulling). It is not even something that can be captured on film. Granted I don’t have a car to be shat upon.

  3. Sheila Ryan

    I swarm, you swarm, he swarms, she swarms, it swarms. We swarm, y’all swarm, they swarm. All swarm.

  4. Phil Bebbington

    wow! This reminds me of my home city as a kid in the 70s, this used to happen every night in the winter! There are a few places where you can go and watch now, but, on the whole starlings are on the decline here.


  5. Sheila Ryan

    It would be cool if we Americans could cross the Atlantic on a causeway, park our cars at Bristol Airport, and watch both planes and starlings take off and land.

  6. Rick Neece

    I had a dream. I was standing on the tarmac of an airport, outside of the terminal, watching numerous tornados form in the distant sky and come toward me then swerve to the left or the right as they came close. I was in no danger. (Near as I could tell from my sleepy vantage. At least I did not fear for myself.) I have, in my bag of bones, the trope of tornados. Don’t know why, but I dream of tornados. Not all the time, but enough to ring.

    Danny and I were walking home from friends, at dusk, a few blocks away, a few months ago, after a wee cocktail party. We passed a decrepit and closed elementary school. Bats were flying out of it in great numbers. Not unlike this video, Derek. I just passed that school in the car a few minutes ago coming home from Walgreen’s. That’s why I’m talking now.

  7. Sheila Ryan

    Whoa, Rick. Tornadoes. What do these recurring images signify, these things we dream of time and time again? Whew.

  8. Rick Neece

    Or bats? Or starlings? Exactly, Sheila, what do these things we see mean? Either in dreams or real.

  9. Sheila Ryan

    Ricky Cameron, I tell you, my dreams these nights, I have not known whether they are dreams or real, and I sure have not known what they mean. All the realities blur, and I scarcely know what to believe.

  10. Derek White Post author

    Sheila, who needs a causeway when you can be like Coop and take a boat?

    Coop, we were “settled in” before we even moved here. But yes, everything is in its right place if that’s what you mean.

    Rick, tornado dreams are good ones. I used to have them as a kid and loved drawing that image (and think the Wizard of Oz is the most telling American movie ever because of it), though it’s probably the one natural disaster i haven’t been through or even remotely seen in person. Juxtaposed with the bats is even stranger. I used to have dreams of bat swarms clusterflocking, in fact, one of the pieces in my book Poste Restante is about swarms of bats coming out of The Coliseum [in Rome] and they were making the same tornadic, undulating patterns that the starlings make. The weird thing is i had the dream months before i first ever set foot in Rome! And even my first time in Rome [right after 9/11] i don’t recall seeing the starlings. I talked about this [and include the story, and more starling photos] from a more recent dispatch when we were visiting as tourists [more like a scouting trip as usual].

    i’m still not sure what the patterns mean, and i’m not sure i want to. People speculate on why the starlings murmurate in such a fashion, to keep warm, to keep safe [like sardines in a bait ball], to establish hierarchy before they settle into trees for the night [dominant males getting the best spot], etc… but i like to think they do it just because they can, and they like doing it. Perhaps it is the same force that glues clusterflock together.

    Anyway, thanks for inducing me to think about this some more, the tornado effect adds a whole new element, especially considering tornadoes are uniquely American, and thinking about the Wizard of Oz and 9/11 in this context … maybe this is the beginning of my Decline of the American Civilization novel, wherein i flee to Rome/Oz because i get swept up in a tornado of starlings!

  11. leadbelly

    What can I say – masterful and majic – ddwhite the magician .. and all I did was help by drinking red wine in clusterflock on the ground

  12. Derek White Post author

    Leadbelly Jones! I could’ve left the B-roll oohing and aahing from the peanut gallery, but felt Philip Glass was more appropriate, and didn’t he come up in conversation? Welcome to the clusterflock, being that we’ve lost our African representative to Rome, perhaps you could fill the void. The flock have been asking about the goat named Derek.

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