Mystical Murmuration I first noticed them outside of the car window. The flock of birds moving like synchronized swimmers or a well-choreographed dance troupe, dark flowing against the white clouds.

What music did they hear? Who leds them? Who taught them such grace? I am amazed at the Creator’s wonders found in nature.

I knew this phenomenon of the bird ballet had a name and being a word person knew I had to explore this mesmerizing movement. The result was not disappointment and the name wasn’t either.


Isn’t that a cool word!

When birds, usually starlings, fly together and swirl in a repeating, coordinated ever-changing pattern – this dazzling dance is called a murmuration. The starlings in a murmuration seem to be connected together. They twist and turn and change direction at a moment’s notice.

Perhaps you’ve seen this amazing video:

Wired Magazine described murmuration like this:

“Each starling in a flock is connected to every other.

When a flock turns in unison, it’s a phase transition.

At the individual level, the rules guiding this are relatively simple.

 When a neighbor moves, so do you.

 Depending on the flock’s size and speed and its members’ flight physiologies, the large-scale pattern changes.

What’s complicated, or at least unknown, is how criticality is created and maintained.” 

Often they gather as night approaches. In the twilight, the dance begins with a few birds, but gradually other starlings arrive, then more and more, until they all join together in one massive flock. Their movements create incredible patterns, streams, circles, trails.  Suddenly they plunge downward then swoop and sail skyward. As they twist and turn in tight formation, amazingly they swirl but never collide.

Scientists don’t fully understand the how and why of murmuration. A mystery. Maybe God is dancing with them and that is unknown, there but unseen.

I know all the birds of the air, and all that moves in the field is mine.

 Psalm 50. 

Then I read this poem by Mary Oliver the other day.  Amazing, isn’t it as you open your heart and begin to ponder something, God sends his message all over for us to notice!

Mary Oliver murmuration

Oh, I wish we as humans could work together like these birds. Too often we are more like chickens, scraping only for ourselves, ruffling another person’s feathers so we feel better or superior.

Lord I want to dance with you.

I know I can’t change the whole world, but the optimist in me believes if I keep my eyes on Christ, maybe, just maybe, a small movement will grace the sky and inspire others to join in the cosmic dance, led by God.

  Lord I want to dance with you. Move when you lead. Soar where you fly.

God turns. He takes the lead in this dazzling dance. My role is to immediately follow.

Lord I want to dance with you.

Move when you lead. Soar where you fly.

May my life be a murmuration with you.




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  • soulstops

    Wow, just wow…I have never seen such a beautiful and powerful sight…Thanks, much beauty even in our broken world.

    • Jean Wise

      Isn’t watching those birds dance just mercerizing? I just love it and love how you said it – beauty even in our broken world. great choice of words

  • Nancy Ruegg

    Jean, this is an absolutely BEAUTIFUL piece. The video was amazing to watch; your words were amazing to read–captivating, almost poetic prose, climaxed with a lovely, poignant prayer. Yes, “may my life be a murmuration with my Father!” Write on, Jean!

    • Jean Wise

      You are so kind, Nancy. This dance the birds do just captives my heart. Times like this I know, I know there is a God!

  • Dayle Allen Shockley

    I’ve always been amazed at the flight of birds in winter. Such heavenly creatures they are.

    Joining you from Lyli’s place today, where we are neighbors.

    • Jean Wise

      Hi Dayle, thanks for stopping by my blog. I too love to watch the birds this winter. Have a bird feeder right outside my office window and they entertain me all the time!

  • traceysoko

    Hi Jean – what I love is that the birds will preform this wonderful dance even if no-one else notices – I guess they do it for their Creator, even if we never stop to notice

    • Jean Wise

      Hi Tracey, Love your insight about the birds performing even if none watched. yes so true and you added to my enjoyment of this by writing that. Thanks!