The Flying V Geese Formation

Geese Standing
Photo taken by me (Robert Tuttle)

Have you ever thought about why geese may be seen flying in a V formation? There are many species of bird and a lot of them will fly further South during the winter months in order to maintain a warmer climate.
Each species of bird seems to have it’s own formation or style when flying in flocks from one place to another. Geese are no exception. They can maintain a tight V formation when flying and it’s quite similar to ducks if I’m not mistaken. But why do they do this? Is this just some sort of accident? Probably not, so let’s take a look at some of the theories.

Could The Geese be Saving Energy?

One of the theories of why geese will fly in a V formation is that they may be trying to save energy. The theory suggests that by them flying closely to one another it kind of creates better aerodynamics. Having the main goose in front and the others staggered closely behind and to the side, this allows for much better wind flow, almost like imagining an arrow flying through the air.


Not only are the aerodynamics better, but having less wind resistance on the geese that are behind the others helps them to fly with less stress. Since there isn’t as much wind resistance, they don’t have to flap as hard to keep cruising. There’s only one problem with this theory.


In order for this to work, they would have to keep perfect distance and angle with one another at all times plus they would need to flap their wings in unison, but it doesn’t seem to happen that way either.


If you’ve ever watched a flock of geese, you know that they tend to waiver quite a bit and definitely don’t flap their wings perfectly together. So I’m thinking this theory doesn’t hold much weight.


Does it Help the Geese Keep Up with One Another?

This thought is that maybe it’s a way of sticking together so they don’t get separated from each other. If they all stay behind each other, then it’s easy to see where the goose in front is at and where they’re going.


Although this sounds pretty logical, other folks say that the honk a goose yells out is what keeps the flock close together. Not only that, but when nightfall comes, they are still able to keep pace and not lose each other, so what gives?


Maybe it’s a Beacon for Other Geese

Now here’s an interesting one. Some people believe that the geese will fly in this V formation simply so other flocks passing by will recognize them. Well, that sounds pretty cool, but why would they even care? Is there some sort of tactical advantage to knowing where the other geese are flying?


Here’s What I Think

My bright idea is that maybe they are flying in this type of formation as a way of delivering signals to other geese that may be within eyes distance. Considering that they basically stay in the V formation, may slight variations of that formation are signs that there is danger near.


Think about it, all of natures creatures have some sort of warning system in place to warn others of potential danger. And you’re probably thinking, well, what about that honking they do. The way I see it, is that if they’re in the air and there was a good bit of distance between them and the neighboring flock, they probably wouldn’t hear a honking call. So creating sign language in the sky is the only logical thing to do.

Anyway, those are a few of the more popular theories as well as one of my own. Do you have any good explanations as to why gees fly in a V formation? Please help us out and comment below.

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9 thoughts on “The Flying V Geese Formation
  1. WIKI says ( lol )
    The V formation greatly boosts the efficiency and range of flying birds, particularly over long migratory routes. All the birds except the first fly in the upwash from the wingtip vortices of the bird ahead. The upwash assists each bird in supporting its own weight in flight, in the same way a glider can climb or maintain height indefinitely in rising air. In a V formation of 25 members, each bird can achieve a reduction of induced drag by up to 65% and as a result increase their range by 71%.[1] The birds flying at the tips and at the front are rotated in a timely cyclical fashion to spread flight fatigue equally among the flock members.

    So basically their hypothesis is that its to do with the “upwash”and doesnt have to EXACT distances between geese to improve aerodynamics

    1. That’s another very interesting hypothesis Stu. I’ve never heard of “upwash” but if WIKI said it, then it must be true…lol

      On a more serious note, it is very possible that aerodynamics could be a factor with all this as I doubt that a birds aerodynamics are exactly the same as an airplane. They have a lot more variables to control than a stiff plane would.

      I guess it would be quite interesting to be able to follow a flock across their entire journey and document exactly what they’re doing.

  2. They might be doing this to improve their speeds. i have seen many a mines on the Discovery channel , the narrator explaining the same logic on eagles .i.e the shapes they take while flying for improving the speed.Thanks for sharing the information

    1. Very true Pramod it does seem like the most logical explanation as I’m sure when traveling over the great distances that they do, speed and getting somewhere quicker would definitely have it’s advantage.

      Thanks for stopping by and lending your feedback.

  3. This is such a great post, we have huge flocks that fly over our house each year and call me crazy but I look forward to the sight !

    1. I hear ya Melissa, watching a flock of birds, especially ones in a great formation is quite a soothing experience. They are so graceful in the sky, I sure wish I could join them. 🙂

  4. That IS Great ! I love your picture too, such a cute one , she appears to be posing for the camera!

    1. Thank you Alyssa, I took that photo by the river near the house I used to live in. There are tons of geese and ducks down there and they love for you to throw them bread. 🙂

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