Tag Archives: murmuration

Cloud of Birds: A Slice and a Poem (NPM #6)

After more than a year of staying close to home, we ventured out this week, spending several days away from home. This morning represented our final leg–knowing we would land at home later in the day. We didn’t have a concrete plan when we woke up. We knew we had about 4 hours of a drive–and were in search of an adventure somewhere along that path. We considered some lakes (up in the Grapevine) and even talked about walking on our local beach once we got home. The beach! Why not explore a beach that is not close to home?

We decided we would head off to Malibu. A beach everyone has heard of, but so many people have not visited. We programmed the navigation and set out through the mountain pass. Clearly there are others who are also itching for some travel. LA’s freeways, while not at peak gridlock, were plenty full. Midway there, Google maps offered another route–one that would save us 11 minutes. We took it.

Once parked, we set off to explore the beach. Right away we heard the shrill sound of birds. What was that? Seagulls? What was going on? We watched as a huge cloud of birds lifted, screeching and calling. It happened again and again.

Cloud of Birds

A high pitched cloud

swirls up from the beach

whirling, cartwheeling

somehow sensing each wing

each beak

flying high, flying low

over the surfers, above the shore

moving in synch, as one

a crowd in perfect unison

terns turning

Is it murmuration?

®Douillard

A bit of investigation on our drive back home led me to discover that these are likely least terns, a tern variety recently at risk. I really don’t know if murmuration is specific only to starlings, but it was fascinating to watch these birds rise and fly and move as a group.

We loved our morning in Malibu. The weather was perfect, the crowds minimal, and the traffic manageable. A perfect ending to a bit of a spring break.