Flock together. This proverb is very much rooted in nature. Single species of birds frequently form flocks. They do this for a variety of reasons. Ornithologists have discovered that birds flock to protect themselves from predators, take advantage of choice foods, raise their profile among females ready to mate, or aerodynamically maximize wind currents. Some species’ flocks also form amazing murmurations, undulating swarms that ebb and flow.

To further examine this wonder of nature, artist Dennis Hlynsky, a professor at the Rhode Island School of Design, started filming the individual flight paths of birds to discover the broader patterns.

This Is Colossal tells us: “Hlynsky first started filming birds in 2005 using a small Flip video recorder, but now uses a Lumix GH2 to record gigabytes of bird footage from locations around Rhode Island. He then edits select clips with After Effects and other tools to create brief visual trails that illustrate the path of each moving bird.”

Here we see swallows:

And crows:

Then starlings:

Hlynsky has also looked at bird species out of the sky, like these ducks moving through the water. He writes: “Ducks are quite heavy… one can see by the paths they make they are sliding as much as paddling. This was shot at the Linesville, Pennsylvania, fish hatchery. It was an experiment aimed at the fish, but the mallard ducks were very aggressive.”

While the videos are clearly mesmerizing, they will also help ornithologists better visualize mass bird behavior. Slate writes, “information on flight behavior is valuable for field identification.” Up until recently, collecting large amounts of flight path data had been too onerous.