Natures wonders: flying in formation (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Monday, January 20, 2014, 01:17 (2065 days ago) @ David Turell
edited by unknown, Monday, January 20, 2014, 01:25

The way the birds fly they help each other:

http://www.nature.com/news/precision-formation-flight-astounds-scientists-1.14537

How does this develop as an instinct? I can't explain it by the usual just-so stories of Darwinian evolution.

"Migratory birds coordinate their wing flaps with much more finesse than previously thought, so as to reap the best energy savings from flying in formation, suggests a new study.


"In 2011, as part of a reintroduction programme, captive-bred ibises following an ultralight aircraft to their wintering grounds arranged themselves in the shape of a V. Data loggers on their backs captured every position and wing flap, yielding the most compelling experimental evidence yet that birds exploit the aerodynamics of the familiar formation to conserve energy.

Theoretical models had previously shown that the V formation, seen in other migratory birds such as geese, could enable trailing birds to save energy. But the models also indicated that the birds' coordination would have to be exceptionally precise to make a difference, and many scientists had doubted that the animals could achieve such a feat during flight, says ecophysiologist Steven Portugal at the Royal Veterinary College in Hatfield, UK.

"They are just so aware of where each other are and what the other bird is doing," Portugal says. "And that's what I find really impressive."


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