Why do geese fly in a V formation?
September 23, 2015
Flying takes a lot of energy. So does flapping their wings and generating lift.
All this flapping creates an updraft. It is in the air currents around the bird's wingtips.
Another bird can spend less energy by flying in this sweet spot. It is located slightly behind and above the first bird.
The idea is like cyclists riding behind one another in a bike race. They save energy.
For geese, spending less energy means flying longer distances.
In fact, one study found they can increase their range by 70% on long migratory flights.
When the lead bird gets tired, it drops back in formation. Another bird moves to the front.
Flying in the V formation also lets the birds keep in visual contact with one another. It keeps them going in the right direction.
That way, they do not crash into each other or get lost along the way.
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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why does expending less energy allow geese to fly longer distances?
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