Starling flight model
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Modelling starling murmurations with maths

Researchers at the University of Warwick are using mathematical models to unpick how vast flocks of starlings create their mesmerising shapes.

In a computer model of a flock, they built up a series of rules based on what each "bird" would be able to see in front of it.

The model, shown here driving a flock of 100, showed that a flock would naturally tend to form at the tightest density that still allows the birds to see in many directions: a "Goldilocks" density that is not too close together, and not too far apart.

The work is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Video courtesy of Prof Matthew Turner / PNAS