One of the most wondrous markers of the end of the day is a murmuration of starlings

The flight of a starling flock at dusk, know as a murmuration, is one of nature’s most beguiling sights. Blurring the line between the individual and the group, murmurations involve synchronised swooping patterns to ward off predators and exchange information in a manner that’s still something of a mystery to scientists. This two-minute excerpt from the Dutch filmmaker Jan van Ijken’s short documentary The Art of Flying follows a spectacular aerial performance from a massive, shape-shifting starling flock over an open field in the Netherlands.

Director: Jan van Ijken

Support Aeon

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview.

But we can’t do it without you.

Become a Friend for $5 a month or Make a one-off donation

Essay/Biology

The minds of plants

From the memories of flowers to the sociability of trees, the cognitive capacities of our vegetal cousins are all around us

Laura Ruggles

Idea/Genetics

Even if genes affect intelligence, we can’t engineer cleverness

Jim Kozubek

Video/Mathematics

How a statistical paradox helps to get to the root of bias in college admissions

4 minutes

Idea/Nature & Environment

Stop boycotting SeaWorld if you care about marine conservation

Samantha Muka

Video/Evolution

When is it worth sacrificing your life for the next generation?

5 minutes

Essay/Earth Science

Life goes deeper

The Earth is not a solid mass of rock: its hot, dark, fractured subsurface is home to weird and wonderful life forms

Gaetan Borgonie Maggie Lau