Superflocks of Migratory Birds Fly in Synchrony Along the Delaware Coast
The coastal areas of the Delaware Bay and the Delaware Atlantic Seashore are excellent birding spots. Birdwatchers from around the nation migrate along with the migratory birds to watch the amazing flight patterns of synchronous flocking. It is in these very large groupings of birds that birdwatchers get a chance to spot the unusual species that often elude them at other times of the year.
What are superflocks? According to the Public Broadcasting Service's website (www.pbs.org), superflocks are composed of thousands of birds of one species or several compatible species who fly together in synchronous patterns for the protection of the flock, to search for food, to seek warmth, or because of kinship. The synchronous patterns result from instinctive rules about flight: Stay a precise distance away from the surrounding neighbors and stay aligned with the nearest neighbors during flight. To view a superflock taking off or landing, or performing an amazing oblique turn without a single collision, is an awesome sight.
Delaware's two national wildlife preserves, Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, east of Milton, DE, and Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, east of Smyrna, DE, provide some of the best birding habitat along the East Coast. During January, February, and March, superflocks of Canadian geese, snow geese, tundra swans, blackbirds, red-winged blackbirds, grackles, and starlings converge on the marshes, farm fields, area parks, and residents' yards.
Watching the synchronous landing of a superflock of blackbirds into a nearby marsh, only to discover that every one of them are suddenly hidden from sight, humbles the best of the veteran East Coast birdwatchers.