“Exceptional, Spooky and Beautiful” Moments With Birds: Dennis Hlynsky’s Creepy Nature Videos

If, by some stretch of the imag­i­na­tion, the end timers have it right, I hope artist Den­nis Hlyn­sky will con­sid­er set­ting up his tri­pod as demons spew forth from the earth­’s crust.

His small brains en masse project has me con­vinced that he is the per­fect per­son to cap­ture such an event. Have a look at how he doc­u­ments the com­ings and goings of birds.

I’ve nev­er expe­ri­enced a star­ling mur­mu­ra­tion myself, out­side of the famous, shot-on-the-fly footage (right above) of Sophie Wind­sor Clive and Lib­er­ty Smith, indie film­mak­ers who chanced to find them­selves in the right canoe at the right time, ornitho­log­i­cal­ly speak­ing. I admire these young wom­en’s sang-froid. I would’ve been cow­er­ing and slash­ing at the air with my pad­dles. That fun­nel cloud of black wings is unnerv­ing even from the safe remove of my liv­ing room, but a groovy sound­track by Nomad Soul Col­lec­tive encour­ages even the most bird-pho­bic amongst us (me) to see it as some­thing gor­geous and awe-inspir­ing, too.

Hlyn­sky does­n’t attempt to lead the wit­ness with reas­sur­ing sound cues. Instead, he amps up the creepy via “extrud­ed time,” lay­er­ing sequences of frames atop one anoth­er until the dark­est pix­els become trac­ers empha­siz­ing flight paths. The com­bi­na­tion of every­day sound and visu­al por­tent makes it dread­ful­ly easy to imag­ine one’s truck break­ing down at an inter­sec­tion right around the 7 minute mark.

Per­haps I’ve seen too many zom­bie movies.

Or have I?

Hlyn­sky is obvi­ous­ly fas­ci­nat­ed by nature, but he also states that “to some degree these videos are stud­ies of mob behav­ior. Are these deci­sions instinc­tu­al or small thought­ful con­sid­er­a­tions? Does one leader guide the group or is there a com­mon brain? Is a virus a sin­gle crea­ture or a dif­fused body that we inhab­it?”

Put anoth­er way, per­haps there’s a rea­son it’s called a mur­der of crows, as opposed to a brunch, hug or sweat­shirt of crows. Hlyn­sky, who’s the type of guy to seek their com­pa­ny out, describes his time spent film­ing them to be among the most “excep­tion­al, spooky and beau­ti­ful” moments of his life.

As for these New Jer­sey seag­ulls, “throw a french fry in the air and with­in 30 sec­onds the entire screech of birds will come.” Yikes. Here, extrud­ed time con­spires with the ambi­ent sounds of a board­walk amuse­ment park, in a tour-de-force of avian-inspired psy­chic unrest.

Pag­ing Tip­pi  Hedren… I’m out of here!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Fal­con and the Mur­mu­ra­tion: Nature’s Aer­i­al Bat­tle Above Rome

Cor­nell Launch­es Archive of 150,000 Bird Calls and Ani­mal Sounds, with Record­ings Going Back to 1929

Para­Hawk­ing in Nepal: What It’s Real­ly Like to Fly with Birds

Ayun Hal­l­i­day wish­es she had a cat instead of a mean, orange-striped owl. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

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Comments (6)
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  • Dennis Hlynsky says:

    Thanks for the post. I might add the Mur­der of Crows on the East Side of Prov­i­dence fre­quent­ed the local dur­ing the time Poe live in that city. It hap­pens every night and rarely do the cit­i­zens look up or out the car win­dow to see the site.

  • Aaron says:

    I’m sick and tired of see­ing peo­ple label some­thing they’re unfa­mil­iar with as spooky or creepy. Learn some­thing about nature peo­ple! Exam­ple: Pas­sen­ger Pigeons, before going extinct, where so numer­ous their flocks flew over­head for two-three DAYS. They blot­ted out the Sun. It was­n’t spooky or creepy, it was NATURAL. That said, these are great videos, and thank you for shar­ing.

  • guillem says:

    So if you don’t know any­thing about some­thin you auto­mat­i­cal­ly say it’s spooky? I mean, those are birds fly­ing. Nature does­n’t get more nat­ur­al than that. You’re the abnor­mal­i­ty, the crea­ture evolved in nature who’s now igno­rant and afraid of it.

  • Greg Kotis says:

    And I’m sick and tired of pre­ten­tious peo­ple who label peo­ple who they think are label­ing things they don’t under­stand as spooky as abnor­mal, there­by forc­ing me to label them as pre­ten­tious! Label­ing is just so sick­en­ing! And Tire­some!

    Love the post, Ayun! Love your work, Den­nis!


  • La Mer says:

    I’m sick and tired of peo­ple get­ting on their moral high hors­es about peo­ple’s pho­bias!

  • Daddy Bachelor says:

    I’m so sick and tired of typ­ing out all the L E T T E R S in this mes­sage box, and watch­ing the cur­sor move across the lit­tle white box run­ning away like it’s so scared of the incom­ing T E X T.

    Also, I’m sick of

    … and of ellipses. I’m so very sic [sic] of spelling errors report­ed as such in the presss.

    I A M N O T sick of Den­nis Hlyn­sky or his work, and in fact I feel much bet­ter hav­ing got that out there. New Jer­sey seag­ulls are among the best in the biz, world class beach screech­ers. EN-CORE //

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