Black Sun

When starlings gather in the hundreds of thousands to spend the night in the reed forests of the marsh, the huge flocks dance across the evening sky. In the Wadden Sea National Park you can experience the wonderful natural phenomenon.

Black sun in the Tønder marsh. Photo by Sandra Prudencio.

Why does Black Sun occur?

The starlings gather in large flocks to settle down for the night in the reed beds of the marshes. We don't know for sure why. Possibly it is because the staggeringly large flocks confuse the birds of prey, and when they are in a flock, it's easier for the starlings to keep an eye out for potential dangers. The starlings are typically attacked by the fast Sparrowhawk, but the Merlin, Hen Harrier, Marsh Harrier and Northern Goshawk can also pose a threat. In some cases, the world's fastest animal, the peregrine falcon, is hunting for an evening meal. It is therefore vital for starlings to be able to protect themselves in times of danger.

Plan your trip

As phenomenon are, the black sun is fleeting, as starlings change their roosting location several times a season, and sometimes even from day to day. In general, you have good opportunities to see the dancing flocks in the Tønder marsh, the northern part of Ballum marsh and several places around Ribe. As a private individual, you can take the chance and experience the black sun on your own. But if you want to increase your chances of getting to the right place, you can book a guided tour with one of the national park's skilled tour organisers. They continuously monitor the situation and have "scouts" out to keep an eye on the starlings. Click here to find the tour organisers.

Black Sun season

You can experience black sun in both spring and autumn: from early March to mid-April and again from mid-August through October. During these periods, the black sun typically occurs every day about an hour before sunset and usually lasts 30-45 minutes.

Black sun on a colourful sky. Photo by Ulrik Pedersen

Read more about Black Sun

This is how to be the best guest when you experience black sun

  • We don't use flash photography at all
  • Never scare the birds on the wings
  • Keep a low profile and don't stand on top of the dykes
  • We refrain from making noise and enjoy the experience without disturbing the birds
  • We always respect private property and move the car if asked to do so
  • We pick up any rubbish we find and take it with us - even if it's not our own.
People view black sun from a distance, which provides the best experience. Photo by Torben Andersen