Today a story about some very familiar winter sounds: researchers have a pretty good idea what all the chatter between crows is about.

The study from the University of Exeter looked at jackdaws, who spend a lot of winter mornings calling to each other from their winter roosting spots.

Then, at some point, they often take off in large numbers.

Hundreds of them will take to the skies within just a few seconds.

The scientists recorded sounds and videos of six jackdaw roosts in wintertime.

Then they studied the noise the birds make in the period before they launch a mass takeoff.

What they found was that in the hour ahead of takeoff, the intensity of the jackdaw chatter grew.

They’re not exactly sure why, but it seems as if the birds are sharing some kind of information that helps them reach a consensus about when they should all start flying.

They were even able to prompt early takeoffs by replaying some of the recorded bird sounds to those in the roosts.

These are groups of hundreds or even sometimes thousands of birds, and yet they’re able to talk through these decisions as a group.

It doesn’t appear to be that just one or two leaders are convincing the others to follow along.

And in some cases, there wasn’t a consensus.

The researchers found times when the intensity of the chatter never reached that high level.

And so instead of one big group takeoff, there were small groups that would start flying here and there.

Sometimes you have to agree to disagree.

This week is often a time when you can buy up a bunch of holiday ornaments at a big discount.

Here’s an ornament that might catch your attention: it’s a very small ornament that’s also a fully functional IBM PC that can play the classic game Doom on its tiny, full color screen.

Appropriately, it’s nicknamed the Ornament of Doom!

Noisy jackdaw birds reach ‘consensus’ before taking off (Science Daily)

The Christmas tree ornament of Doom (Boing Boing)

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Photo by Dag Ågren via Flickr/Creative Commons