Why birds fly in a V formation


But that’s Socialism!


I think Mythbusters tested this with airplanes, too.

But my real reason for posting:

Person1: You’ve seen ducks fly in a V formation, right?
Person2: Yes!
Person1: Do you know why one side of the V is sometimes longer than the other?
Person2: No, why?
Person1: Because there are more ducks on that side you goober.


Is this new? I thought this was common knowledge for at least my lifetime.


What other breaking discoveries that I was taught 40 years ago in kindergarten are they working on?


This is not a new discovery , nor does the linked article claim it is.

Rather, it says that “Precision formation flight astounds scientists.”

Which is to say, scientists have finally gathered the necessary proof to overcome their long-standing skepticism about something that has long seemed obvious to birdwatchers, aerospace engineers, computational aerodynamicists, and pilots - that the V-formation exploits tip vortices and other dynamic flow phenomena to improve flight efficiency.

Apparently, (acto this report, anyway) some scientists doubted that birds actually had the sensory abilities and precision-flight capability necessary to actually do what all the computational models suggested they were doing.

But they do. And apparently, that leaves some long-skeptical scientists ‘astounded.’

Meanwhile, many of the rest of us are astounded that they doubted it in the first place.

But hey, that’s science for ya. :slight_smile:


And that’s why I wrote: “What they confirmed…” not “What thy discovered…”


Another attempt by “science” to disprove god.

I’m pretty sure that that was some really heavy sarcasm.

If it wasn’t, things are going to get interesting in here.

The video is worth a watch, especially the bit after 5:00. But I have always wondered why a V, which takes advantage of both wing-updrafts of only the lead bird?

Sierpinski Triangle formation, go!


I would be very surprised if any real scientists were ‘astounded’. If we were to believe journalists, then they spend most of their time being ‘astounded’, and the rest of the time being ‘baffled’.

We knew that birds flew in ‘V’ formation. We know the pitch of the ‘V’ corresponds with the average see vortex for the lead bird. We know that birds tend to flap their wings in sync with the bird in front. People tried in the thirties to see whether airplanes could fly in formation and save fuel, and it was found that they couldn’t, because the trailing aircraft put a drag on the one in front. It was guessed that birds might take it in turn to be the lead bird, and then rest while someone else takes a turn: this does’t make sense for aero engines that run at constant torque, but might make sense for birds. Things are also complicated by the fact that the birds to not have to just sit in a line - they also have to find the ‘sweet spot’ that matches their wingbeats with the currents of the bird ahead. This is not a terrific piece of reckoning, as the know the angle to fly at, they size the bird ahead should appear, and they will feel when they are in the right place.

So, what bit are we missing here? We need to attach instrumentation to birds and see whether the currents are just as we would expect, and whether the birds are actually finding the right place. And they do. Which is not a great surprise, but nice to be sure. Yay science!

While we are on the subject, I met someone who did their PhD, - must be 40 years ago now - on how the bumblebee flies, and that was never a mystery either.

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Thanks for that. Aaand, click, the trashcan beckons…

Having surfed countless times, and wakeboarded countless times, being in the sweet spot you mention in water is quite the exquisite feeling, so I can only imagine how much more badass it is to accomplish and, for that matter, to feel, in flight.

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