The laws of Nature are always perfect, and scientists have spent countless years trying to imitate the effects of Mother Nature; for what they could not imitate, they resorted to simply trying to understand it.
Have you ever noticed that birds don’t just scatter across the skies when they fly? That they do so in a particular way? Well, a group of scientists studied the Northern Ibises in Europe and discovered that there was some unspoken coordination to their movements. Originally it was thought that the birds flew in a V formation because it helped them to fly over longer distances. While it may be true that they indeed flew over great distances in this way, it is actually the reason why they do that they are able to fly for so long.
When the birds make a V formation, the lead bird basically takes the brunt of the wind force as it ploughs through the air; this creates an easier passage for the remaining birds in the flock as it lessens the wind speed. When the birds flap their wings, it disturbs the airwaves; air that is pushed forward is called an ‘upwash’ while air that is pushed back is called a ‘downwash’. When flying, the birds adjust their wings so that they can take advantage of the ‘upwash’ while avoiding the ‘downwash’. This causes each bird behind to use less energy to maintain flight as they would be propelled forward constantly.
In addition, the birds change positions within the formation so that they all get to be leaders and followers; it would be mighty unfair for the lead bird to suffer for the entire flight. That is why they are able to maintain flight for long distances because they each take turns.
Human beings could learn a lot about how to be human beings by copying the lifestyle of animals in their natural forms. Here the birds are teaching leadership and co-operation, while conducting perfect flight symmetry. Now, isn’t that something to talk about?
By Kerry Ann Stewart
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