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Submission + - Why Birds Fly in a V Formation (sciencemag.org) 2

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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  • When I was in school in the 90s I remember drafting being given as the reason birds fly in a V formation. Is there something significant about this study or is it just that they replicated old findings? Both the summary and TFA weren't very good at explaining why this is significant compared to the plethora of other research on bird formations.
  • In aerodynamic terms, each bird flies in the rising part of the wingtip vortex from the guy ahead of him, for a reduction of maybe 10% in induced drag. The strongest fliers trade off the lead position.

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