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geese formationCanada Geese are one of the many migratory birds found in Canada who migrate to a more southern climate during the winter months. Most geese winter in southern U.S. and Mexico, but due to the noticeable changes in our climate, many geese are still wintering in the southern most regions of central and western Canada, where winters are not lasting nearly as long as they have in the past. Many geese are still migrating, but are just not travelling as far south as previously recorded.

Almost everyone in Canada has seen geese flying in a V shape formation, but many people are still unsure of the direct benefit of this formation to the geese. Geese fly in a V formation for one main reason, energy conservation.  

Migrating can be a long and tiresome journey, and being an egotistical goose in this situation, can lead to mortality through starvation or over exertion of energy. Thankfully through evolution, geese and other migratory birds have developed behavioural traits that allow them to work as a team versus as an individual, providing a mutually beneficial outcome for the entire flock.

Each goose shares the responsibility of leading the flock. This position is the most difficult to hold due to the fact that the leading goose is subject to the largest amount of wind resistance, and consequently the largest energy expenditure. Each goose behind the lead flies slightly higher than the goose in front of them. This reduces the amount of wind resistance each successive goose is experiencing, in turn reducing the energy output required to migrate. All members of the flock are willing to take turns in this position, only to spend an equal amount of time flying in a low energy cost situation. Migratory birds are truly the epitome of teamwork, and would experience a large population decrease every year during migration if it wasn’t for this wonderful evolutionary adaptation.

 

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