A wake of buzzards. A murder of crows. A flamboyance of flamingos. A pandemonium of parrots. A murmuration of starlings. All unique names for specific flocks of birds. I love that last name, a murmuration of starlings. A word picture if there ever was one. The picture that comes to mind is a murmur going through the crowd...rippling through the mass. Have you ever seen a flock of starlings fly? It is amazing. They fly together in formation, not like geese or other birds in a V formation. No, they seem to ripple through the sky. A twist here, a turn there. A dive, a roll. Executed flawlessly, seamlessly. Moving as one. They do that, scientists say by watching six or seven birds close by and operating in tandem.
An article I read on audobon.com said that for years they have been trying to figure out exactly what causes the birds to do this. They say as far back as Roman times, they sought the answer. The Romans believed that the gods hinted at their intentions by the way the birds flew. They still don't have all the answers but through computer simulation and extensive study they believe they are closer to an explanation. Here's your explanation...God created them that way. Plain and simple. He created them to live together, to fly together. To abide together in harmony and be in relationship with each other.
We as God's people were also created to live together. We cannot be loners and function as He created us to. I know this better than most. I am an introvert. I crave alone time, I feel like I am on overload after a hectic day at work filled with people and noise. But like those starlings, I need others around me, my family in the Lord. We, as Christians find safety and security, comfort and solace in others. Again, as an introvert and one who thinks they can take care of everything by themselves I know how much we really need each other. Yesterday was a rough day. Life-changing news came in and I felt paralyzed. I tried for an hour or so to just 'get through' it but then knew I needed help. Of course I prayed, that was first and foremost. But then I texted my friend and just said I needed prayer. She didn't have the answer, but she prayed. She gave me a sense of community, that I wasn't alone in this and I felt better. We function better when we know that we are not all alone. We do better when we allow God's people to be His hands extended.
Starlings have great protection because of the other birds around them. They are afforded safety because of the mass of birds surrounding them. When a bird of prey comes in to try to attack, the birds move as one. Darting this way, dashing that. It creates confusion and allows the birds to get away to safety. Safety in numbers. Didn't we learn that in Finding Nemo? Having more numbers means more eyes and ears and that means that they can detect predators more quickly.
Again, we benefit from this behavior also. Often when we allow ourselves to be alone and isolated, the enemy has a better chance of attacking and defeating us. When we surround ourselves with wise and discerning Christians, we increase the likelihood that the enemy will be spotted and we will not be overtaken. We alone do not have the capacity to defend ourselves on all sides. That is why in the armed forces you hear them tell each other, "I've got your six", meaning they have your back. That meaning originated during WWI with fighter pilots referring to the rear of the plane. Sounds a lot like those starlings. We all need someone to have our six. We cannot be lone wolves; even the Lone Ranger had Tonto. As we learn to open our lives to others, as we learn to trust each other, as we listen to counsel, we gain an advantage over the enemy.
In studies of the flocking tendencies of birds, scientists have ran the gamut with theories. Natural telepathy, a group soul, thought transference. They still don't know for sure what causes their synchronization, their harmony. We know it is not telepathy or a group soul. For us it is the Spirit. It is not thought transference, but it is having the mind of Christ. It is allowing the Spirit of God to lead us and guide us and the heart of Christ to bond us to each other. As we follow a common belief, as we seek a common good we are better able to help each other through life no matter what hits us.
Another benefit of flocking is the increased opportunity to find food. Our food is the word of God, "Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (NIV) We get our food of the word through reading the bible, yes. But we also grow and are nourished by sharing that food with others and receiving what they have to share. My husband and I taught a bible study years ago and there was a couple that came that were very quiet, kind of new in the Lord. They felt as though they did not have much to share with others who had been Christians longer. Jim told the group that we all have something to share. We all have unique experiences, individual viewpoints that can encourage and profit others. We all have a different twist on things and that can help us to help each other grow in the Lord. We incite each other to grow, "Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another." (NASB).
So, we need to come together as a flock and learn to roll with each other. To function as one in crisis, to bring nourishment to each other, to afford protection and comfort and consolation. We need to become more like those birds in the air, remember what the bible says about them..."Look at the birds. They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren't you far more valuable to him than they are?" (NIV)
He loves us so. Let us take their example and roll with it
A radiance of cardinals
A congregation of eagles
A prayer of gotwits
A family in Christ
For a beautiful video of a murmuration of starlings, follow this link
Information on birds flocking behavior from audobon.com
Information of names for flocks of birds from about.com