We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

How Big Can a Flock of Birds Get?

Margaret Lipman
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Looking up in the sky and seeing a flock of birds temporarily obscuring the Sun can be an awe-inspiring sight. But while you may have seen flocks containing hundreds or thousands of birds – or even a million in a murmuration of starlings – that's nothing compared to one particular flock that darkened the skies over southern Ontario in 1866.

Once the most common bird in North America, passenger pigeons gathered in such large numbers that one flock is thought to have contained 3.5 billion birds. The size of that flock was truly mind-boggling, stretching over a mile wide and 300 miles long, and taking 14 hours to pass overhead. Incredibly, the passenger pigeon would be extinct by 1900, due to over-hunting and habitat loss.

Believe it or not, another 19th-century event dwarfs the 1866 passenger pigeon flock. In 1875, physician and meteorologist Albert Child witnessed a swarm of Rocky Mountain locusts that he estimated contained around 3.5 trillion insects (though some estimates say 12.5 trillion). "Albert's Swarm" covered some 198,000 square miles (512,800 square km), darkening much of the western United States. Incredibly, just like the passenger pigeon, the Rocky Mountain locust is now extinct, despite these inconceivably large numbers.

Strength in numbers:

  • Atlantic herring are thought to gather in schools containing up to four billion fish.

  • The red-billed quelea of sub-Saharan AFrica is thought to be the world's current most populous bird, with flocks sometimes containing millions of members.

  • While mammals can't compete with birds, insects, or fish in terms of group size, they can still come together for some pretty impressive gatherings. Herds of springbok and wildebeests on the African savanna can contain around a million animals, while one cave in Texas is home to some 20 million Mexican free-tailed bats.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Margaret Lipman
By Margaret Lipman
With years of experience as an educator, Margaret Lipman produces thoughtful and informative content across a wide range of topics. Her articles cover essential areas such as finance, parenting, health and wellness, nutrition, educational strategies. Margaret's writing is guided by her passion for enriching the lives of her readers through practical advice and well-researched information.
Discussion Comments
Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman
With years of experience as an educator, Margaret Lipman produces thoughtful and informative content across a wide range...
Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.