Why Do Birds Fly in a V Format, What is Bird Flight, V Formation (For CBSE, ICSE, IAS, NET, NRA 2022)

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Why Do Birds Fly in a V Format?

  • Anyone watching the autumn sky knows that migrating birds fly in a V formation, but scientists have long debated why.
  • Most people say that they are simply following their leader, but a flock of birds flying in a V shape is a little complicated and a lot more interesting than what people usually think.
  • A new study of ibises finds that these big-winged birds carefully position their wingtips and sync their flapping, presumably to catch the preceding bird՚s updraft and save energy during flight.

What is Bird Flight

  • It is defined as the mode of locomotion used by birds while taking off and flying. This is one of the most complex forms of locomotion in the animal kingdom. Flight helps birds in breeding, feeding, and avoiding predators and during migration.
  • Bird flight mechanism is similar to the mechanism of aircraft.
  • Aerodynamic forces are used based on lift and drag, in both cases.
  • Lift is defined as the force that is produced by the action of airflow in the wing and drag is defined as the force which is opposite to the direction of motion.

Why Do Birds Fly in a V Format?

Birds Fly in a V Format
  • There are two reasons birds might fly in a V formation: It may make flight easier, or they՚re simply following the leader.
  • You have probably seen that birds tend to fly in a V-Formation while migrating or making trips to find food.
  • Squadrons of planes can save fuel by flying in a V formation, and many scientists suspect that migrating birds do the same.
  • There is usually one bird at the front that leads the way and the other birds in the flock lines up at the back in right or left making a V shape in the sky.
  • Models that treated flapping birds like fixed-wing airplanes estimate that they save energy by drafting off each other, but currents created by airplanes are far more stable than the oscillating eddies coming off a bird.
  • Birds usually fly in a V-Formation, J-Formation, Inverted V-Formation, or Inverted J-Formation. These linear formations of birds are called as Skein Formation.
  • “Air gets pretty darn wiggy behind a flapping wing,” says James Usher wood, a locomotor biomechanist at the Royal Veterinary College at the University of London in Hatfield, where the research took place.
  • The V-Formation is not only used by birds but also by military personnel during the time of war. It has been used in wars from Spartans in the middle ages to modern-day fighter jets and sea warfare.
  • Just as aerodynamic estimates would predict, the birds positioned themselves to fly just behind and to the side of the bird in front, timing their wing beats to catch the uplifting eddies.
  • Birds, planes, and people all have similar reasons to follow this formation. Lining up in a V-formation gives each a clear view ahead of them.
  • When a bird flew directly behind another, the timing of the flapping reversed so that it could minimize the effects of the downdraft coming off the back of the bird՚s body.
  • But a flock of birds flying in a V shape has a more impressing reason for this flight formation.
  • According to researchers, the birds mostly fly around a meter behind and a meter off to the side up front. Now when the bird in front flaps its wings a vortex of air directly behind is pushed downwards which is called downwash.
  • Scientists do not know how the birds find that aerodynamic sweet spot, but they suspect that the animals align themselves either by sight or by sensing air currents through their feathers. This creates a pressure difference. Due to this, the air below the wings is of higher pressure than the air above the wings. And as usual, the air moves from the region of higher pressure to the region of lower pressure to the upward direction which is called as upwash.
  • The bird situated in another bird՚s upwash has to spend a lot less energy to fly since they are already being pushed upwards by the upwash of the bird in front of it.
  • Alternatively, they may move around until they find the location with the least resistance. In future studies, the researchers will switch to more common birds, such as pigeons or geese.
  • The V-Formation of birds situates each member back and to the side directly in its neighbour՚s upwash. The pressure difference increases as we go at the end of the V-Formation, so the birds at the back spend very less energy than birds upfront.

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