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  1. ITV Report

Thousands of starlings expected to take flight in Nottingham

Credit: PA Images
  • A spectacular starling murmuration is expected at Nottingham's Attenborough Nature Reserve today (2 January).
  • Hundreds of visitors are expected to watch.
  • Visit our Facebook page to watch the murmurations live at around 3.50pm.
  • What are murmurations?

A murmuration of starlings is a mass swooping of thousands of birds in the sky.

It's a mass aerial stunt - with a large group of birds flying and diving in unison.

Starlings murmurate for many reasons. Grouping together offers safety in numbers – predators find it hard to target one bird in the middle of a flock of thousands..

They also gather to keep warm at night and to exchange information, such as good feeding areas.

They gather over their roosting site, and perform their stunts before they roost for the night.

Credit: PA Images
  • Where can you see them?

Autumn roosts usually begin to form in November, though this varies from site to site and some can begin as early as September.

More and more birds will flock together as the weeks go on, and the number of starlings in a roost can reach 100,000 in some places.

Early evening, just before dusk, is the best time to see them across the UK.

They mainly choose to roost in places which are sheltered from harsh weather and predators, such as woodlands, but reedbeds, cliffs, buildings and industrial structures are also used.

Credit: PA Images
  • Starling numbers

Despite the size of the flocks, starling numbers are just a fraction of what they used to be.

The starling population has fallen by more than 80 per cent in recent years, meaning they are now on the critical list of UK birds most at risk.

The decline is believed to be due to the loss of permanent pasture, increased use of farm chemicals and a shortage of food and nesting sites in many parts of the UK.

For more information on starling murmurations, visit https://www.rspb.org.uk/.