What is that noise?
I glanced around in search of who was blaring a radio that loud.
But, as I stood in the back yard on my way to the garage I realized it wasn’t a radio. It wasn’t music. It wasn’t even talking.
It was honking.
Look, up in the sky.
It’s a bird.
It’s a plane.
No, it’s a bird. I was right the first time.
High above me in V formation were a couple dozen geese gracefully going somewhere and honking up a storm.
I was entranced. Why do they fly in a V and how do they know to do it?
Later I looked it up. Geese fly in a V because that formation allows them to glide more often which conserves energy. The V shape is aerodynamic and reduces air resistance.
This enables geese to fly longer distances. A flock of geese can fly 70 percent farther by flying in V formation than by flying in isolation. There is an equation for this but I don’t know how to type it.
Another benefit of the V formation is that each bird has an unobstructed field of vision, which make it easier for the geese to keep track of each other and communicate (hence the honking) while in flight.
OK. But how do geese know to fly in V formation? Which Christopher Columbus goose discovered the benefits of the flying V and explained them to all the other geese and taught them how to do it?
That is one of history’s mysteries.
I didn’t know any of that as I watched the geese gracefully fly through the sky.
But, these geese made me think.
Somehow, geese had discovered they could go farther, expend less energy and better look out for each other if they worked together.
They cooperate and they all benefit.
Could we humans learn something from geese?
Could we progress more, accomplish more and look out for each other more if we cooperated more?
Don’t be a silly goose.
Paul Sassone is a freelance columnist.