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Birds of A Feather Flock Together By Robin Carter

I was crossing the parking lot leading up to the front entrance to work when I heard this noise -- it first sounded like a lot of people having a group conversation. Then I realized it was a large group of birds chirping and flying overhead in the form of "V" shape. I was reminded of the statement "birds of a feather flock together," an English Proverb that is used when referring to people of similar interests or having the same personality. It is often used when speaking of someone in a negative or not-so-pleasant way. But let's just focus on the actual characteristics of the birds.  

Scientists have discovered that the V-shaped flying formation that geese or other birds in particular use when migrating serves two very important purposes: 

    1) it conserves their energy as each bird flies slightly above the other in front of them, which helps reduce the strong wind resistance. When the leading birds get tired, they fall behind, taking turns as the trailing ones move forward--this way, the geese/birds can fly for a long time before they must stop to rest. Birds that fly in formation seem to glide easily and more often while reducing energy expenditure.
    2) The other benefit to the V-formation is that no bird is left behind or gets lost in the process. The flapping of their wings creates a vortex (a whirlwind type of motion) of air that rolls off each of their wing-tips, which means that the air pushed behind the leading birds frequently gets pushed downward while the air behind that air gets pushed up. So if another bird is flying in either of these zones, it gets a free ride. Nevertheless, it saves energy by free-loading off the airflow pushed downward then up by its "flockmates..." 
       It makes sense to me. The disadvantage of birds that fly alone Iis that they have to flap their wings more frequently, which tends to create a higher heart rate for them than those that fly in V-formation. Theoretically speaking, it just makes me curious as to whether there is an actual measurement in units of how much airflow it takes to produce a successful upflow of energy to each flying bird. One thing we know for sure is that these birds of the same formation flock well together, unlike the ones flying alone.