The air around Barga has been filled with the sound of birds over the past couple of days as they roost in trees together and then flock together in the air preparing for their migration to warmer climes further south
But how do they manage to fly so closely together without colliding? And what are the benefits of doing so – in the air and on the ground?
First, a bit of Ancient Greek for you: the act of any groups of animals coming together in unison is technically known as allelomimesis. And in wild bird populations such gatherings can often number thousands or even – incredibly – millions of birds!
The Greek word ‘allelo’ describes mutual relation to one another, and ‘memesis’ (also Greek) denotes imitation or mimicry.
A larger group of birds boasts a much better chance of spotting a predator, or other potential threat, than a single bird has.
A group of birds may also be able to confuse or overwhelm a predator through ‘mobbing’ (when birds attack or chase a would-be predator, to drive it away) or agile flight.
Staying in a flock presents a predator with more possible targets too, which lowers the danger for any single bird.