The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman is one of my next stories to start working on in Lexicon, in particular i’m focusing on the idea of the hunger birds.
“WE ARE HUNGER BIRDS. WE HAVE DEVOURED PALACES AND WORLDS AND KINGS AND STARS.”
I won’t spoil the book for you and copy out the plot, but the hunger birds are ferocious and frightening and quite mysterious. The eye can’t see them properly and they swoop down from the sky like the birds in your nightmares.
I want to capture this odd bird that you can’t see, i want to capture the terror.
But first, for inspiration, i’m looking at something rather beautiful:
A murmuration of starlings literally means a flock of the birds.
“A “murmuration” of starlings, as this phenomenon is known, must be one of the most magical, yet underrated, wildlife spectacles on display in winter. Impenetrable as the flock’s movements might seem to the human eye, the underlying maths is comparatively straightforward. Each bird strives to fly as close to its neighbours as possible, instantly copying any changes in speed or direction. As a result, tiny deviations by one bird are magnified and distorted by those surrounding it, creating rippling, swirling patterns… The logic behind this spectacular behaviour is simple: survival. Starlings are tasty morsels for peregrines, merlins and sparrowhawks. The answer is to seek safety in numbers, gathering in flocks and with every bird trying to avoid the edge where adept predators can sometimes snatch a victim.”
Looking at the patterns and shapes and movements created by this mass of birds will be a wonderful starting point for trying to pin down the hunger birds. The starlings, on mass like this, are no longer individual beautiful birds but a whole and unseen blackness… yes, they are beautiful, where the hunger birds are not, but twirling and swirling masses are a useful drawing source for this story.
Some stunning images i’ve collected together on pinterest of starling murmurations: