A couple of questions about...GEESE!

OK, so I’m pretty sure I’ve figured out why they fly in the V formation. I think it’s so if the leader gets hurt, sick, tired, or weak, they can rotate and have a stronger goose take the front so they get to their destination more efficiently. Is that right?
And are the flying formations comprised of mainly female or mainly male geese? Or is it an even variety?
Where are they going? I know they fly South for the winter but I see formations all year round. Are they getting food? Helping a goose in need? Migrating to a different part of the area for better housing opportunities?

They’re drafting.

Each goose gets a windbreak and some extra lift from the goose ahead, thereby not having to work quite as hard to keep up.

They rotate through the formation, just like bicyclists in a peloton.

The V-shape is probably because it’s the easiest way to keep track of and/or allow visual communication between all the flock members. It also allows all the individuals a fairly clear sight of what’s ahead.

As far as I know, flocks are pretty much evenly split along gender lines.

My guess is they’re looking for food and/or a place to stay.

Staff report on flock behavior:

The energy savings accrue to F-18’s in formation too.

The V-shape is dictated by aerodynamics (and it’s not really drafting). The thread that Squink’s second link points to has a useful discussion of this, with plenty of references.

(For a quibble, I’ll note that the post Squink has pointed to is not the first one in that thread to link to the F-18 story.)

They are not really drafting in the same way that bicyclists do. The most important factor is that they are receiving extra lift from the vortexes thrown off by the wings of the birds directly ahead.

This is part of it, but again the most important thing is that it allows birds to take advantage of the wing vortexes from leading birds.

Here is a previous thread on the subject that has a lot of additional information and cites:
Who leads a flock of birds?

Edited to add: this is the same thread that **Squink’s ** single linked post is a part of.

Nobody wants to be direclty behind the lead goose when he lets loose. It’s all about clean air. LOL.

Seriously tho…

I wonder if that is why the pecking order of the flock says that the head hancho sits in the top of the tree. I think they fly in the same manner. The ones that sit in trees anyhow.

It should perhaps be noted that geese don’t often perch in trees.

covered it.
We killed them all so that we could sit under the trees anyhow. They left that out of the story of geese evolition – along with the baby pigeion one.

But do you know why one side of the ‘V’ is always longer than the other?

Well, roughly half the time it’s because there’s an even number of geese in the formation.

It’s the shape that matters, not the equal length of the arms. Out of every possible v-shaped formation of geese, there’s only one that has arms of equal length - it’s the same as asking why, when you roll a die, do you more often roll something that isn’t a three, than a three.

I don’t know, but it seems possible that pair bonded geese might prefer to fly in the same V, and on the same side of the V. That’d give you formations in which one side is always longer than the other by 1,3,5… birds.

One side is longer than the other because it has more geese in it, of course!

Hahaha, congratulations to MissMossie for getting the right answer! Sorry to make the rest of you apply critical thinking to that. :smiley: