Filmed against the sunset skies of Marseille, France, A Bird Ballet is a moment with a flock of (what we assume are) quickly-shifting starlings, caught by filmmakers Neels Castillon and Mathias Touzeris as they were waiting to film something else completely. Music: Hand-Made by Alt-J.
A “murmuration” of starlings, as this phenomenon is known, must be one of the most magical, yet underrated, wildlife spectacles on display in winter. Impenetrable as the flock’s movements might seem to the human eye, the underlying maths is comparatively straightforward. Each bird strives to fly as close to its neighbours as possible, instantly copying any changes in speed or direction. As a result, tiny deviations by one bird are magnified and distorted by those surrounding it, creating rippling, swirling patterns. In other words, this is a classic case of mathematical chaos (larger shapes composed of infinitely varied smaller patterns). Whatever the science, however, it is difficult for the observer to think of it as anything other than some vast living entity.