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Natalie Hofmeister


Making Sense of Murmurations with Dr. Natalie Hofmeister



Note: registration includes admission to the National Nordic Museum. Søren Solkær: Sort Sol closes March 10—visit it before it's gone!

When the seasons change, millions of starlings take to the air across the northern hemisphere. It is not the bird’s migration that captures our attention, but a phenomenon called murmuration, when hypnotic gyres of several thousand birds turn as if one body. This behavior, not the bird’s discordant song nor its voracious appetite, draws our attention to the common starling. Captivating as it may be, what exactly is a murmuration? Scientists hypothesize that predators shape these swirling masses of birds, or that the birds themselves congregate to keep warm overnight. But for centuries, humans have found their own reflections in this behavior: starlings sometimes signal a divine judgment, and other times an industrious workforce. This public talk will explore how biologists make sense of the murmurations that transform individual starlings into a coordinated whole, and how we identify ourselves in these birds.


  • Natalie Hofmeister

    Dr. Natalie Hofmeister

    Natalie Hofmeister is an Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan and a Research Fellow in the Michigan Society of Fellows.