Why do Geese Fly in a V?

by Russ on October 26, 2013

Brent Geese can be recognised by a black head with a white ring around the neck.Over the next few weeks, tens of thousands of geese will be migrating to our shores. Huge numbers of Barnacle, Brent and Pink-Footed Geese can be spotted along our shoreline. In winter, their home in the Arctic becomes much colder and every year there is a mass exodus, as thousands of birds escape the winter darkness. Many come to the UK because it’s warmer, lighter and has much more food than they could find at home.

When waterfowl fly in a 'V' formation, they are called a Skein.We can spot these birds whilst out walking or even when driving. Their honking calls come first, followed by the unmistakable ‘V-shape’ flying formation, known as a Skein. Like the Red Arrows, they streak across the sky. The most likely explanation for this behaviour is that this formation reduces the energy used to fly. Each bird can effectively ‘ride’ the air that passes the wings of the bird in front, which gives it a slight lift. This means they don’t need to use as much energy to fly and any energy they can save could make the difference between surviving a migration or not.

Each goose takes a turn at flying at the front of the Skein.But for the bird at the front of the ‘V’, they won’t benefit. However, it’s been found that each bird in the formation will take it’s turn at the front of the line. This sharing behaviour could demonstrate close bonds between individuals, or just be a case of some aerial pushing and shoving. Whatever it is, it produces some of the most stunning scenes of our Autumn.

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