“Gramps, why do geese fly in a V?”
The pair were sitting together on a shoreline bench when they’d heard the loud honking behind them. Now, a flock of geese, in a telltale V formation, flew over their heads.
“That’s a very good question, Max,” the old man responded.
There was a pause as the older man and his grandson watched a sky filled with honking, flapping V’s sweep by.
“First, geese are cooperative creatures. By flying in a “V” form, they greatly reduce their collective air resistance and so increase their flight range.
Man and boy continued to stare upward as more and more formations of geese rushed past.
Gramps continued, “The goose at the head of the V is not necessarily the leader of the flock. Geese take turns leading. As one bird tires, it drops to the back of the formation and another takes its place. Flying in a V-form increases visibility as each bird can see what’s happening in front of them. Now that’s teamwork.”
The boy considered this information, then asked, “But why do they honk so much?”
Gramps smiled, “When flying, geese honk to provide recognition to each other helping them maintain speed and stay in formation.
There was silence as the last of the migrating geese faded into the clouds.
The boy sighed, “All those geese getting along, flying in formation, getting where they need to go, nothing like the traffic jams Dad complains about driving to and from work. Why don’t people cooperate like the geese do?”
The old man put an arm over the boy’s shoulder and hugged him, “another very good question.”
Moral: In Nature, the truth is plain to see.
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That V-formation vs. rush hour on the interstate… Sometimes I’d rather be a bird!
I must admit that traffic hassles are irrelevant to a blind guy who doesn’t drive and seldom sets foot in a vehicle. but I do have fond memories of hundreds of geese flying over my head as I watched Nature’s ebb and flow in the sauvie Island Wildlife Sanctuary, a magic island oasis in the middle of the Columbia River near Portland, Oregon. yes, as the Paul Simon song says, “I’d rather be a sparrow than a snail.”
Indeed a good question!