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Why Birds Fly In a V Formation 207

sciencehabit writes "Anyone watching the autumn sky knows that migrating birds fly in a V formation, but scientists have long debated why. A new study of ibises — where researchers took to microlight planes and recorded birds strapped with GPS in-flight — finds that these big-winged birds carefully position their wingtips and sync their flapping, presumably to catch the preceding bird's updraft and save energy during flight."
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Why Birds Fly In a V Formation

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  • Re:This is new? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by iggymanz ( 596061 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @10:47PM (#45972339)

    which was done decades ago, I laughed at the 80s mention, I was taught as child in the 60s and in 70s this was popular science fair homemade wind tunnel experiment.

    About once a month slashdot runs article on "discovery" or "invention" that is decades old

  • by Cramer ( 69040 ) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @12:01AM (#45972775) Homepage

    Incorrect. Watch some windtunnel tests. The vortex is behind the vehicle, not beside it.

    A better word for this is "slipstream". You get close enough to have no air to push through. If your car has radar cruise control, following close enough to make a huge difference isn't too dangerous. (obviously on a highway where people aren't very unpredictable. and you're far better off following semi's.)

  • Re: This is new? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Em Adespoton ( 792954 ) <> on Thursday January 16, 2014 @03:20AM (#45973723) Homepage Journal

    Pigeons fly in V formation, as do crows. Actually, most birds that size do. Once you start getting smaller though, they flock, but don't do the V formation -- even with migratory birds. Once you're down to Juncos, Chickadees and Sparrows, they use more of a chaotic swarm and weave method to confuse predators -- but they also tend to hop from tree to tree, and don't fly long distances in the open.

    What really confuses me is seagulls -- they flock like smaller birds and yet travel distances and have few (land/air) predators.

The best defense against logic is ignorance.