The “V” formation of flying geese

A recent piece of work by a team lead by A. . Kölzsch from Germany tracked a family of Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons) 

This goose is a great migrator and winters (December to February) in Western Europe where the researchers were helped by colleagues in the Netherlands for this study.  The geese migrate in the Spring to the High Artic where they breed from June. Like other species the autumn route is not the same as the spring migration.

The study wanted to research the “V” formation flying on these geese.  The accepted theory is that they use this formation as the slip stream of birds flying in front aid birds flying behind.  It has been shown that the lead birds take turns to lead.   However, in this piece of work they show that in family groups (they found a family composed of a father, mother and two young),  they discovered that the family fly in formation with the mother and father taking turns to lead the family group.

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