Yesterday (November 10) I was near Starved Rock State
Park in Illinois. At about 4:30 PM, I saw a most amazing sight. Swarms
and swarms of robin-sized black birds were flying north in a continuous
stream. The birds did an amazing job of keeping in formation. I watched
the swarming for at least 25 minutes. I've done a little reseach and I
beleive these birds must have been starlings. Can you verify this? Were
they migrating and, if so, why were they going north?
These birds were probably starlings as was mentioned. They flock in the
Midwest especially during harvest time in the fields. They will spend time
in an area then move on south to warmer climates.
This is most definitely Starlings. This bird is notorious for gathering
in large flocks and travelling south in groups this time of year. They
normally end up in Tenn. and south, and are greatly hated for the mess
they leave in certain areas of the South because they congregate in large
groupings. It has been a topic of heated discussion as to how to get these
birds to leave populous areas that they spend the winter.
Several species of blackbirds and European starlings will sometimes gather
in large flocks in fall and winter, often in mixed flocks. Starlings would
probably be the largest number in a flock the size and location you
describe, but sometimes red-winged blackbirds will gather in the thousands
too. Starlings don't migrate long distances, they often disperse somewhat
during the day for feeding and then regather in the evening for communal
roosting, so the direction they were flying is not necessarily significant.
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Update: June 2012