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Re: flocking

Andrea Kirk wrote:

<All of this talk of pack hunting and group social
behaviors made me think of another common group
behavior.  I'm sure most people have seen gigantic
flocks of starlings or blackbirds that, while flying,
may all suddenly wheel and turn in unison.  What
allows them to communicate this sort of action to one
another?  And in the world of pure speculation, is it
possible birds have inherited this trait from the
theropods?  Or is it something that has evolved much
later? I'm not sure what other birds participate in
this sort of behavior...>


  They don't all turn in unison, though. From what
i've seen personally of blackbird flocks, as well as
footage of several other types of birds, shows that
when _one_ birds turns, for whatever reason, those
nearest may follow, and those nearest _them_ may
follow, then the whole flock reorients itself in
whatever new direction. Thus, any member could be
"alpha" at any one moment, though that certainly is
the wrong term.

  Flying V's respond differently, because it _is_
follow the leader, no matter how big the V's, or how
many branches there are off the whole structure. The
one in front, to my observations, is, like horse
herds, "boss." He (or she) leads, they follow. Happens
in larger birds than mass quantity flockers (most
[all?] of whom, I gather, are passerines). Flying V's,
to my knowledge, occur in gruiforms, anseriforms,
phoenicopteriforms, etc., all birds that are
long-necked and -legged, and otherwise gregarious with
set pecking orders, or am I wrong?

  Those storks and vultures may constitute a different
setup, where communal roosting and the characteristic
"hovering patterns" occur, but I haven't a clue why.

  As for reasons for flocking, could it be that
they're all prey birds? Excluding the storks and
vultures, of course, which are birds-of-prey.

  "Fire when ready, commander...."

- Greek proverb: "Knowledge is Inherent;
  Stupidity is Learned." -

Jaime A. Headden

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