Why do geese fly in a V formation?
September 23, 2015
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You asked us, "Why do geese fly in a V formation?"
See, flying takes a lot of energy - flapping wings, generating lift.
All this flapping creates an updraft in the air currents around the bird's wingtips.
Another bird can spend less energy by flying in this sweet spot, which is slightly behind and above the first bird.
The concept is similar to cyclists riding behind one another in a bike race to 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 and another bird moves to the front.
Flying in the V formation also lets the birds keep in visual contact with one another so they're oriented in the right direction.
That way, they don't 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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