EVER wondered why starling form huge aerial flocks known as murmurations? Could understanding this spectacular phenomenon help stop or slow their decline?
These are questions to which researchers at the Society of Biology and the University of Gloucestershire hope to find at least some of the answers.
It has been suggested that murmurations occur because starlings gain safety in numbers, confusing potential predators such as birds of prey before settling down to roost.
Another theory is that they could be gathering to keep warm or to exchange information.
Starling numbers have declined alarmingly over the last few years. Since the mid-1970s, the UK population has fallen by 66 per cent. The species is now red-listed as a bird of high conservation concern.
The cause of the decline is unknown.
Dr Anne Goodenough, of the University of Gloucestershire, and her team will analyse the data to establish how location, weather, sunset time, and season affect the size, frequency and time of murmurations.
The public are invited to contribute to the survey via :