Controversy over that Viral 'Murmuration' Video

© Screenshot of 'Murmuration' on Vimeo

Here's a new word for some of us: Murmuration. See the video for a view. It's a sight to behold. A river of nature. A flock of starlings flying together above the water in Ireland.

What does the term mean? Murmuration is a collective noun for starlings. Like a murder of crows, just less well known.

The Vimeo video, posted by Sophie Windsor Clive, is two minutes long, with some still shots mixed in. It has close to 600 comments so far, most of them a variation on "Wow!"

Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.

Just like the birds, this video has taken flight on the Internet. MSNBC notes that Liberty Smith also was part of the experience, and that the film, taken on Ireland's Shannon River, was submitted to a World Wildlife Fund competition.

But ... there's a question as to its chances of winning.

The WWF competition is called "Life. Nature. You. Make the Connection." The contest is now closed, but entries can be found on WWF's Vimeo site.

A discussion on the Vimeo site revolves around the possibility that the murmuration video was edited to meet a 2-minute time limit for the contest. A longer version of a video, also by Clive and Smith, and also called "Murmuration," was submitted to other contests, which appears to break the WWF contest rules requiring original content.

So it's being speculated that the magical starlings won't win the prize (at least in this case). An 8-minute "Murmuration" video by Clive and Smith was part of the London Short Film Festival in 2010, among other contests.

Unfair? No decisions have been made yet by WWF. But this is sure to make the video, and the competition, all the more well-known.

Smith says in a post on Vimeo that the 2-minute clip submitted to WWF is "an original video, that uses our footage in a new and and original way - which was created specifically for the competition." The other, 8-minute video used the same title. Due to all the confusion and controversy, that longer film is now called "Island," Smith says.

The prize in this battle, by the way, is a commission from WWF to create a short film with a minimum budget of $10,000 (U.S.) and an all-expenses paid trip to India to attend the CMS Vatavaran environmental film festival.

Two films will win, and be announced and shown at the CMS festival, in New Delhi, India, on Dec. 6-10. Smith says in her recent post that she doesn't know if she's won or not.

Whatever happens, the 2-minute murmuration is a sight to behold. BBC Nature says starlings are known for these "wonderful swirling aerial displays," done at dusk as they get ready to roost for the winter. These murmurations could become less common, BBC adds, because populations of starlings have dwindled in Britain.

*** Update: "Winners of the WWF Video Competition"

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Tags: Birds | Contests | World Wildlife Fund