If you ever happen to see (or hear about) geese heading south for the winter – flying along in “V” formation – you might consider what science has discovered about why they fly that way. As each bird flaps its wings, it creates uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in “V” formation, the whole flock adds at least 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew by itself. Any goose that falls out of formation suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone and quickly gets back into position to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird in front.
When the lead goose gets tired, it rotates back in the set and another goose moves up to fly point. And the geese in the back honk to encourage those in front to keep up their speed. Finally, when a goose gets sick or is wounded and falls out of formation, two other geese fall out with that goose and follow it down to lend help and protection. They stay with the fallen teammate until it is able to fly or it dies. Only then do they launch out on their own – or with another formation – to catch back up with their group.