Flock of Seagulls?
August 24, 2006 12:00 PM   Subscribe

Did I imagine this flock of birds?

Once in the mid-70s I can recall a flock of birds flying over our house. They were in a line maybe 30 feet wide and it took minutes for them to fly over. They were maybe 50 feet above our house. I'd estimate that there had to be 25,000 birds.

The same thing happened circa '85.

Did I dream this? Or was it possibly real?
posted by DieHipsterDie to Science & Nature (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Starlings have been known to flock in number in excess of one million.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:06 PM on August 24, 2006

It's very possible that flocks of starlings can do that. I've seen flocks that took a minute or more to pass over. Do a google search starling flocks and you'll find links such as Black Sun in Denmark.
posted by skynxnex at 12:07 PM on August 24, 2006 [1 favorite]

Possibly real, but how the heck do we know? Maybe you're completely hallucinatory.
posted by agregoli at 12:07 PM on August 24, 2006

Response by poster: I guess it was a silly question. Of course birds fly in huge flocks. They were just so low and it happened so long ago that the whole event now has the feel of a dream.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 12:08 PM on August 24, 2006

Memories tend to exagerate events, but I've certainly seen super flocks in New England during migrations of what appeared to over a thousand birds at once.

I think starlings move in very large flocks, sometimes in the thousands. This page mentions a flock size near SeaTac of 100,000.

Where are you?
posted by justkevin at 12:10 PM on August 24, 2006

Response by poster: This occured in west-central Wisconsin.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 12:11 PM on August 24, 2006

I've seen some pretty huge flocks of starlings (a couple thousand at least), and the way they moved together was not unlike a school of fish, or a swarm of bees. Not quite the same, but it goes to show that birds can flock in really large numbers.

You say it happened twice and you're still not sure if it really happened? Huh? I'd say it probably happened. How old were you?
posted by Marla Singer at 12:12 PM on August 24, 2006

I've seen the same thing a few times, and it always seems surreal.
posted by amro at 12:15 PM on August 24, 2006

I've seen the same thing in Rome towards sunset. I assumed they were flying to their nests. It was crazy; the sky was almost black with birds.
posted by unknowncommand at 12:18 PM on August 24, 2006

I've seen the same thing in Rome--but from across the city. It looked like a giant veil was floating over the train station, disappearing and reappearing. I did wonder whether I was hallucinating.
posted by dontoine at 12:30 PM on August 24, 2006

Could they have been bats? The first time I saw a colony of bats (had to look that up to see what a group of them was called!) flying at dusk in St. Louis, I thought I was going to have a heart attack -- it looked like they filled half the sky.
posted by scody at 12:31 PM on August 24, 2006

i've seen lots of geese doing the traditional flying 'v' thing a couple of time here in chicago. once, i saw one up pretty high (maybe 1000+ feet) and it took a long time--over 5 minutes for them to pass. i could hear them honking, too. once in a while, in the fall on cloudy days, i hear the honking, but don't see any birds.
posted by lester at 1:01 PM on August 24, 2006

i should mention that when i saw that huge v--in the late 70's or early 80's, there was actually two huge flocks.
posted by lester at 1:09 PM on August 24, 2006

Ah dontoine, I was *at* the train station. That's weird.
posted by unknowncommand at 1:25 PM on August 24, 2006

We can get several thousand crows at once over Sacramento on a regular basis - they like to spend the night in a particular area downtown, near state office buildings that are empty at night. These are not hundreds of thousands, but several thousand enormous black crows that make a tremendous amount of noise. It can take 15 minutes for them to clear the sky over my house.
posted by luriete at 1:53 PM on August 24, 2006

Just minutes to fly over? That's nothin' -- no cite handy but I've read of migrating flocks taking days to pass overhead, in pre-industrial America.
posted by Rash at 5:26 PM on August 24, 2006

Rash might be referring to what I read as well:
"[Now-extinct passenger pigeons] lived in enormous flocks—the largest of them a mile (1.6 km) wide and 300 miles (500 km) long, taking several days to pass and probably containing two billion birds."
posted by bitpart at 12:05 AM on August 25, 2006

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