Many animal species move together in groups (schools, herds, flocks) without leaders but displaying complex collective behavior, sometimes visually very striking. This behavior is the emergent of individual interactions, so that the phenomenon can be fruitfully approached from statistical physics. In this talk we shall summarize experimental results on flocks of starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) in the field, and show that it is possible to develop a sensible statistical theory of their collective movement, despite the difficulties related to out-of-equilibrium effects and relatively small system size. We shall discuss in particular the presence of scale-free correlations in speed and velocity fluctuations and their relation to symmetry breaking and speed control mechanisms.
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