One of the best ways to identify a bird is by the way it flies, especially at a distance when details about its coloration and other field marks are hard to make out. Birders call the way a bird moves the “jizz” of a species, and it can vary dramatically across species.
Information on flight behavior is valuable for field identification, but collecting large amounts of visual data on bird flight is a relatively new scientific practice. This has been part of the inspiration behind a series of videos created by Dennis Hlynsky, head of the film/animation department at the Rhode Island School of Design. Using a time blend effect in Adobe After Effects, Hlynsky slogged through gigabytes of recorded video to visualize flight pattern data for several species, including black vultures, a mixed flock of swallows, and European starlings, famous for their murmuration flight behavior.
You can watch all of his original videos here.