Skip to Content

Why Do Birds Fly in Circles? (Morning, Sunset & More)

Birds are warm-blooded vertebrate animals. The well-developed feathers and light-weighted skeletons of the birds enable them to fly so effortlessly in the sky.

If you look in the sky, you will probably see a pack of birds flying in circles. This article will provide an in-depth answer and offer you deep insights into the flying mechanism of birds.

Why do birds fly in circles? (Morning, Sunset & More)

Birds fly in a circle to get an essential lift from the air during their flight. Birds flying in groups takes the advantage of thermals. Thermals help the bird to fly long distances by reducing the energy requirements during the flight. Thermals also create lifts in the air for the flying birds.

Birds fly in the circle to reduce energy expenditure while flying. Birds are naturally evolved to fly incessantly in the air. The finely evolved flexible body of the birds enables them to naturally glide in the air for a long period of time.

Thermal is a natural phenomenon, it produces an atmospheric updraft in the air. An updraft is a motion of air in which warm and moist air is flowed in the upward direction to cool the air above the ground in a convection system.

Thermal is usually produced due to the heat of the sun, as sunrises, ground temperature increases. Thermal can form from morning to afternoon. Thermals start to heat the air above the ground and land areas tend to warm much faster than the rivers and seas.

In the morning, the sun starts to rise and the day temperature gradually increases. Ground-level air temperature begins to rise and the molecules of thin air near the ground start to move in an upward direction. 

High-density air molecules from the higher altitude of earth replace the thin air.

Birds take the advantage of thermal to fly long distances. Generally, migratory birds fly in a circle to reduce the flying energy expenditure. Thermals in the air provide essential lift among the birds and birds can easily glide through the air.

Besides, flying in a group provides the birds with various evolutionary advantages. They can easily catch prey in an unfavorable climate and travel long distances without taking a break.

The reasons behind birds flying in circles are explained here –

Conserve their energy:

The thermal phenomena create a force in the air, and birds take the advantage of the updrafting force. Like us, birds also prefer to conserve their energy. Flying in a group enables the birds to save their energy during the flight.

They can cover long distances by gliding in the air when the rising air provides the necessary lift.

Fly long distances at a time:

Birds fly in a circle so that they can fly long distances at a time. Migratory birds require to fly thousands of kilometers during the winter. The scarcity of foods makes them translocate from one end of the world to another.

Evolutionary benefits:

Birds fly in a group because it provides them evolutionary benefits. Flying in a group provides them adaptive advantages during the catching of prey.

Small birds fly in a circle because they can conserve their energy during the flight when they fly in a circle. Small birds tend to have a higher metabolism rate and flying takes most of their reserved body energy.

Flying in a circle not only enables them to save energy during the flight but they can also incessantly fly long distances.

Why do birds fly in circles?

Birds fly in circles to conserve their energy during flight. Birds take the advantage of updraft from the air and they tend to glide through the air.

Birds require to fly long distances. Especially the migratory birds fly hundreds to thousands of kilometers at a stretch. This takes a huge amount of energy from the body of a bird. Besides birds have a high metabolism, meaning their body rapidly burns off energy.

To save flight energy, birds fly together in circles. The rising air provides them a necessary force in order to fly in the air. Besides, birds change their positions in circles while flying.

A flock of birds can remain for hours in the air utilizing the updrafting force of the air.

Flying birds in different periods of the days are described hereafter-

In the morning:

Environmental temperature remains cool in the morning. That’s why little updraft force is generated during this period of time. Birds flying together in circles still can use the updraft force from the air.

At sunset:

Air near the ground remains warmer during the sunset. Warm air near the ground level produces thermal and updraft. Birds such as vultures remain aloft utilizing the rising force of the air.

That’s why flocks of birds are seen to be flying to their nest during the sunset.

What does it mean when birds are flying in circles?

Birds are flying in circles because they are using the updrafting force from the air during their flight. Birds conserve energy expenditure during their flight by using the rising force of the air.

Thermal helps the birds to fly aloft without using excess energy from their body. Birds flying in circles also change their position as they get tired during the flight. Birds located in the middle of a circle uses less energy while flying compared to the birds flying in the two corners.

Birds tend to change the pattern of their circles and the coordination of thousands of birds in a flock is essential to change the direction of a flying circle of birds.

What is thermal soaring and how do birds use it?

Thermal soaring is a type of flight in which the convection air current is utilized by a flock of birds in order to hold in the sky. Birds can stay in the air using the prominent principles of thermal soaring without spending excess energy from their body.

Birds use the advantage of thermal soaring by flying inside the thermal column of the rising air. Birds can glide through the air and rise aloft in the sky.

Birds such as eagles and hawks use the thermal current of air to stay a long period of time at a stretch without using an excess amount of energy.

What bird flies in circles?

Birds such as pigeons and starlings tend to fly in circles. A flock of pigeons and starlings can confuse the predators. Flying in circles also helps them to conserve their body energy.

Migratory birds also fly in groups. Migratory birds travel hundreds to thousands of miles during winter in search of food. Flying in a group provides them adaptive benefits.

Besides, they can use the advantage of thermal updrafts from the air and fly long distances using a little amount of energy.

Blackbirds and sparrows also fly in circles. Flying in groups helps the blackbirds and sparrows to avoid and confuse the predators. Moreover, blackbirds also gather in a group when they find food and water supplies.

Sparrows show an interesting behavioral activity when gathered in a flock. They create a phenomenon called Murmuration. Sparrows fly through the sky while creating various intricately synchronized patterns. Murmuration is a wondrous biological phenomenon of birds.

Do birds fly in circles before a storm?

Birds fly in circles before a storm. Birds can sense the changes in the climates and air. That’s why birds usually tend to get quiet before a storm. Flying in circles before a storm enables them to use less energy during their flight.

Birds use the thermal effect from the air to fly aloft. Warmer climates can generate big storms as the air molecules near the ground tend to rise above and a large vacancy of air near the ground is created. It is the main cause of rising a storm.

Birds can sense the changes in air density and pressure. Excessive fall on air pressure near the ground can cause big storms. During this time, birds tend to take shelter in their nest.

Final thoughts

Birds fly in circles so that they can use the updraft force from the air and stay in the sky without spending much effort. Birds take advantage of the thermal natural phenomenon. Flying in a flock enables them to glide in the air for a long period of time. Birds also fly in groups to avoid predators.