One of the world’s marvels is the migratory cycle of birds. Take the Arctic tern, for example. When scientists added up the total distance flown by one of these birds during its lifetime, they found it equalled three round trips to the moon – more than 1.25 million miles!
Geese are another long-distance migratory bird. Next autumn, when you see the geese heading south for the winter, flying along in a V-shaped formation, you might consider what science has discovered as to why they fly that way. As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in a V-formation the whole flock adds at least 70 per cent more to its flying range than if each bird were flying on its own.
When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird in front. When the leading goose gets tired, it slips to the back and another goose flies point. It is sensible to take turns doing demanding jobs – whether with people or with geese flying south. Geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.
When a goose gets sick or is wounded by gunshot and falls out of formation, one or two of the other geese fall out with it and follow it down to lend help and protection. They stay with the fallen goose until is able to fly or until it dies. Only then do they launch out on their own, or with another formation, to catch up with their group. People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going much more quickly and easily because they are travelling on the thrust of another’s efforts.
If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay in formation with those who are headed the same way we are. If we have the sense of a goose, we will stand by each other when danger threatens or trouble comes.
Originally published on – “Let me tell you a story” by Rob Parsons