Bird migration V formation explained
Birds fly in formation to save energy, not to show who's the boss. Birder's World magazine editors explain this fascinating behavior.
September 18, 2008
WAUKESHA, Wis. -- Migrating geese, cranes, pelicans, and other large birds are filling the skies across North America right now. Why do they fly in V-shaped formations?
Snow Geese are big birds that migrate long distances in V formation. The geese breed north of the tree line from Alaska across arctic Canada to Greenland and spend the winter primarily in central California and along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
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"Many people think the lead bird must be the leader of the flock," said Birder's World Editor Chuck Hagner. "But it's not true. Large birds fly in V formations to save energy, especially when migrating long distances."
Birder's World magazine editors are available to explain this phenomenon. To request an interview, please contact Matt Quandt at 262.798.6484 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Each bird is able to fly up to 70 percent farther in formation than flying alone, because each member of the flock takes advantage of air vortices created by the wings of the bird flying ahead of it.
The same bird does not always fly in front. When the leader tires, it falls back and another bird takes its position. This happens on a regular basis. Therefore, the first goose is not necessarily the flock's strongest or most dominant. It's just that bird's turn to lead.