“When a flock of birds sense danger, have they been observed to fly in one direction?
“About eight years ago, I was visiting the PUB Training Centre, located between Bradell Road and Upper Serangoon Road, Woodleigh area. There was a secondary forest in front of the car park at that time. As I got out of the car, I heard a very loud crashing sound in the secondary forest, most likely a man-made sound. Suddenly I saw many species of birds flying in one direction, about 3 o’clock direction. I remember this vividly because I saw green parrots, white cockatoos, brown birds of different sizes, all flying in the same direction away from the loud noise. This flight pattern puzzled me because I always thought birds normally fly in all directions when they are in danger. Could you help understand this?”
Thong Chow Ngian
18th October 2009
“You are right. In most cases, when there is danger, birds will fly out in different directions, especially if there are several species concerned. A flock of the same species is more likely to head off in the same direction though.
“In this case, there are two possible reasons. Firstly, based on the probability that the birds involved are residents of the area, they would head for the next safe place, in the same direction. This is especially true in a mainly built up area, where wooded patches are scarce. Secondly, if the human disturbance was coming from one direction, the birds would take off in the opposite direction. This is particularly true if the wooded patch was relatively small and the human disturbance was sufficiently large, and on one side of the patch.”
19th October 2009