Next fall, when you see geese heading South for the winter… flying along in V 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 V formation, the whole flock adds at least 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own.
People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going more quickly and easily because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.
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.
If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay in formation with those who are headed the same way we are.
When the Head Goose gets tired, it rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point.
It is sensible to take turns doing demanding jobs with people or with
geese flying south.
Geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. What do we say when we honk from behind?
Finally… and this is important… when a goose gets sick, or is wounded by gunshots, and falls out of formation, two other geese fall out with that goose and follow it down to lend help and protection. They stay with the fallen goose until it 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.
If we have the sense of a goose, we will stand by each other like that.
based on the work of Milton Olso
One New Year's Day, a large Canada goose landed in our snow-covered garden. It appeared to have been shot. One leg was limp from the knee down, and it looked exhausted.
I left the goose some food and water so it wouldn't have to move. After several days, the large bird let me rub an antibiotic on its leg.
The bird sat in my flower bed the whole time, and the rest of the gaggle waited at the edge of the creek, encouraging it to continue the journey. They'd chirp and grunt, each of them taking turns repeating the same sounds - like they were crooning a familiar song for comfort.
One morning, I saw the injured goose standing on both feet. it preened and stretched, called to the group near the creek and took off. Once airborne, the rest of the flock joined it until they formed a perfect "V", with the injured bird flying in the rear position.
I was amazed that this entire "community" postponed its southward flight to wait for one bird's recovery - and impressed that they placed it in the least strenuous position when they left.
-- Pamala Vincent
Eagle Creek, Oregon