Sunday, November 16, 2008

Why Do Geese Fly in a V formation and Find the Turkey

I heard the geese coming and when I looked up the apex goose was retiring further down the line and another goose was taking his place.

The lead goose takes the brunt of the wind, and as each bird flaps its wings, it creates uplift for the bird immediately following it. It's thought that birds who fly in these formations can fly 71 % further than if they depended on individual strength.

The next question becomes how do they decide who takes the lead when?

It's currently thought that the top goose in the pecking order, decides take off time, gathers the geese, and takes off. When that goose has had enough and retires further down the line, a second strong flyer with previous experience, one who knows the resting spots, takes over.
And depending on the length of the flight, another goose and another takes their turn, and eventually a previous strong flyer takes another shift.
I'd actually driven out this way because I'd been called and told that a flock of 15 turkeys was in a particular corn field. Of course when I got there, there wasn't a turkey to be seen. Drat.
But as I turned back, far down the road a single turkey trotted across the blacktop. I kept my eye on exactly where the turkey had entered the woods, stopped the car, and peered into the woods.
Can you spot the turkey? The body portion isn't too tough but what about the turkey's head?
There is a forked branch coming from the center top of the photo. Follow the right branch down half way and the turkey's head is in front of the lower half. See his eye? The texture of the head?
D. Browne


Karen Anne said...

v formation - Operation Migration has a neat video showing one of the cranes on the migration training flight that's in progress now taking advantage of the lift from the wing of one of the ultralights that're leading them:

Donegal Browne said...

Thanks Karen!