Last Look

A Murmuration of Starlings

A flock of European starlings

Photo: Douglas Levere

Darkening a late-afternoon sky, a vast flock of European starlings takes wing over the North Campus. One of 159 bird species found at UB, according to Education and Linguistics Librarian Christopher Hollister (MLS ’00, BA ’87), who has been keeping count since 1999, starlings thrive in Western New York and pretty much everywhere in North America. Yet they are newcomers, introduced in 1890 when 60 were set loose in Central Park—part of an eccentric New York City millionaire’s mission to bring every type of bird mentioned in Shakespeare to this continent. Today, North America is home to some 200 million starlings, which usually fly in gigantic flocks called “murmurations,” wheeling and plunging as one, like a huge undulating flag.