red legged stilt


The collective motion of thousands of birds in swirling patterns is called a murmuration.  Scientists have many theories as to why they happen, but it is still largely a mystery - a mystery that makes for a wonderful sunset show.  As we depart from San Miguel the brown headed cowbirds are passing through town on their way north and their murmuration was like a three act play.  In the first act we sat and watched a small group of red legged stilts fish for dinner along the muddy shore.  Occasionally one would wander into the yellow reflections of dried grass, creating an almost autumn like scene. We began to wonder if we had bad information about this event.

In Act Two, a few scout birds start entering the area from the south, then a few more.  For awhile it doesn't look like much, but slowly the numbers begin to build.  Just when we think it is the end, thousands more birds arrive in tight flying squadrons and then the dance really starts, high in the sky.  Swooping, arcing coils of flight.  A small group breaks off and starts swirling around a nearby island.  We can hear their wings as they make their rapid turn around the back side of the island.

As the sky darkens, the third act begins, a slow descent over their nesting area.  Gradually birds drop from the flock onto the trees until every last bird has its home for the night and it is too dark to see them against the trees.

It was a lovely farewell performance for our time in San Miguel de Allende