Geese flying in a "V": Image courtesy Greg7 via Flickr.
Geese flying in a "V": Image courtesy Greg7 via Flickr.
The University of Minnesota is conducting a new campaign called “Driven to Discover”. While new ad campaigns are not typical fodder for a current science web site, this particular campaign is interesting in that it is featuring some of the current research taking place at the University of Minnesota and answers questions like, “When will it be possible for human beings to fly?” and “My dog exhibits strange behavior shortly before a thunderstorm begin. Can dogs sense a change in weather?

One current question that I often wondered: Why do ducks and geese fly in a “V” formation is a recently answered question.

These birds are just doing the avian equivalent of a NASCAR driver’s slipstreaming (or drafting). Geese and ducks are relatively large birds, and they affect the air they fly through just as a race car does. Each bird creates a slight uplift at the tips of their wings during flight. By flying behind and slightly above another bird’s wing tip, birds experience an updraft. These trailing birds gain an advantage and expend less energy than they would if they were flying by themselves. Studies have shown that a bird in a flock flying the same speed as a bird flying alone flaps its wings half as often.

Scott Lanyon, Director, Bell Museum of Natural History and Professor, Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior.

Check out the current and older campaign to see some of the really interesting questions people asked. You can even sign up for a monthly newsletter featuring this information. It’s fun reading.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Edith Frost's picture

If you plan to keep using my photos, I'd really appreciate it if you'd provide a link to the original... in this case it's http://www.flickr.com/photos/edith/1140409857/


posted on Wed, 10/03/2007 - 1:20am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Sorry, Edith. I've added the link. We try really hard to make sure that everyone checks the image licenses and gives proper credit, but it's important to put links back to the originals, too. I'll remind all of the regular Science Buzz bloggers....

posted on Wed, 10/03/2007 - 11:58am
Joe's picture
Joe says:

Edith, my apologies. I found your photo searching the Creative Commons. I see it is no longer listed there. I have replaced your photo with a different one. Again, my sincere apologies.

posted on Wed, 10/03/2007 - 2:38pm
Edith Frost's picture

No prob... although, according the CC fine print y'all still would've been able to use that photo under the original license even though I changed the license for *new* downloads. Makes sense given that a photographer has no way of knowing (unless Google tells them) who actually used their photos under which license, etc. Also, I don't know whether or not a linkback is actually required under those non-commercial/attribution licenses. My hunch is that it's not.

posted on Wed, 10/03/2007 - 4:11pm

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