Why DO geese fly in a V shape?

It’s one of the wonders of autumn to see hundreds of geese flying in a ’V’ formation across the morning and evening skies, often at quite low levels, constantly communicating with each other in a cacophony of honking.

The birds then settle on heathland and in fields, ideally newly-ploughed ones, to feed on grasses, roots and vegetation with their short bills.

Why do geese fly in a ’V’ formation (also known as a skein)?

The most likely explanation for this behaviour is that the formation reduces the energy needed to fly, with each bird riding on the air current caused by the wings of the bird in front.

Saving energy in this way could make the difference between surviving a migration, or not.

Given the bird in front doesn’t benefit, each bird in the group will take its turn as the lead bird in an amazing display of aerial acrobatics.

Autumn is a truly magical time for bird spotting, and for marveling at the migratory species and the journeys they have been on - their navigation skills and their stamina.