The Origin and Context of the Video Showing Flocks of Dark-colored Birds

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Reading Time: 4 minutes


Update: At 12:30 on January 30th, the section about the distribution of the video in the Russian media and the comment of the Deputy Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN, Dmitry Polyanskiy, was added to the article.

On January 24-25th, Georgian and Russian-speaking Facebook users shared two videos showing numerous flocks of dark-coloured birds flying near buildings and highways.

The video of the birds was published in the Russian propaganda media (NTV, RBC, RIA Novosti) along with the comment of the Deputy Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN, Dmitry Polyanskiy. According to Polyanskiy, the large number of crows in Kyiv may be related to the anti-religious actions of the Ukrainian authorities.

“Who knows, maybe it’s a feedback for state-sponsored sacrilege of destroying churches and prosecuting priests.” – Polyanskiy wrote on Twitter. Attached to his post are two different videos showing a large number of birds.

In addition to Facebook, the video was distributed on other social networks, including TikTok, where the users noted that the appearance of crows in Kyiv is a bad omen.

On January 25th, a Georgian-language Facebook account, “Khatia Janashia,” which has repeatedly been disseminating disinformation in the past, linked the “abnormal invasion of crows in Kyiv” to the desecration of churches by the Ukrainian authorities and the organization of satanic rituals in temples. Attached to the post is a video that combines videos of a theatrical performance in a Ukrainian cathedral and a bird flock flying over a highway.

On January 24-25th, other Georgian (1,2) and Russian-language (1,2,3,4) users shared the identical video.

Since January 24th, a portion of Facebook accounts (1,2) has been sharing the above-mentioned video along with another video showing a large flock of dark-coloured birds flying near residential buildings.

The claim that the appearance of a flock of birds in Kyiv is connected with rituals held in churches is a conspiracy. The video that shows birds flying near cars, was not shot in Kyiv, but in Houston, US, in 2017. As for the second video, it was shot in Kyiv and shows the murmuration of birds, which is a common natural phenomenon.

The viral video showing hundreds of birds flying over a highway in 2017 was shot in Houston, US, and has no connection to Ukraine. On January 25th, 2017, Dailymail published an article about the mentioned video. According to the article, traffic was temporarily blocked due to a large number of birds.

The video was actively circulated in the past with a false description. According to the publication AFP Factcheck, in October 2020, several Facebook users claimed that a video depicted the aftermath of Typhoon Molave in Vietnam.

As for the second video, it was published on January 23rd by the Telegram channel Реальный Киев | Новости Украина [Kyiv in real time/News of Ukraine]. According to the attached description, it was filmed in Pechersk, Kyiv region, and depicts the murmuration of birds, which is popularly believed to occur during weather changes.

Murmuration is the synchronized movement of a large group of starling birds. There are several explanations for this phenomenon. According to some opinions, birds resort to murmuring to protect themselves from predators, and it is also believed that they exchange information about favourable feeding sites.

The appearance of a large group of birds in the capital of Ukraine may be related to their seasonal migration. It is known that at the end of summer and the beginning of autumn, starlings fly from northeastern and Eastern Europe to relatively warm regions, mainly to the territory of Great Britain. They retreat in winter when they fly in large groups and nest together to protect themselves from the cold.

The phenomenon of murmuration is often associated with supernatural events and conspiracies due to its unusual nature. Information about the video depicting this event was verified by “Myth Detector” in the past as well. For more details, see:

The post by the Georgian-language user “Khatia Janashia,” uses the process of murmuration to amplify a conspiracy, according to which the “abnormal invasion” of birds in Kyiv is connected with the desecration of churches by the Ukrainian authorities, which refers to the alleged satanic rituals organized in the churches.

The video, which was distributed by the author of the post, has already been verified by “Myth Detector.” In fact, the video does not depict satanic rituals, but shows Ukrainian Christmas-New Year-related traditions, which are held in Ukrainian Greek-Catholic churches. For more information on the topic, see the article:

The article has been written in the framework of Facebook’s fact-checking program. You can read more about the restrictions that Facebook may impose based on this article via this link. You can find information about appealing or editing our assessment via this link.

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Topic: Other
Country: Ukraine, USA

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