Benefits of Flocking

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This page was created based on a comment by Michael Dickinson that he was not aware of any evidence for aerodynamic efficiencies in bird flocking.

"Flying in formation helps to save energy, especially in large or heavy birds with small wings relative to their mass (Badgerow 1988; Alexander 1992). By flying just off the wingtip of the preceding individual, each goose cancels some of the air turbulence at its own wingtips, which reduces induced drag and saves energy. In the familiar "Vee" formations of migrating geese, each individual flies off and behind the wingtip of the individual in front of it (see figure). The energetic advantage of formation flight could be as high as 50 percent."

"Ornithology, Sixth Edition," Frank B. Gill, page 101 (from [1])