How long have we known about bird flying patterns?

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Offline thedoc

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Michael Giddings asked the Naked Scientists:
   I have just read Victoria Gill's article on the "V-formation" flying of birds, January 2014, BBC, and how this makes flying easier for each individual bird (apart from the lead flyer). I am just curious to know how long this group assistance has been known, since I am sure Milton refers to it in "Paradise Lost"

 ...... And set forth
Their aery caravan, high over seas
Flying, and over lands , with mutual wing
Easing their flight - so steers the prudent crane
Her annual voyage .........

Paradise Lost Book VI lines 427 - 430

Do,you have any further historical information?
What do you think?
« Last Edit: 10/02/2016 01:50:01 by _system »


Offline alancalverd

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Re: How long have we known about bird flying patterns?
« Reply #1 on: 10/02/2016 08:13:16 »
Presumably the observation goes back to the dawn of Man, and a reasonably sapiens homo would guess that there's some advantage in formation flying, but elucidation of the aerodynamic mechanism was unimportant until the 20th century when we began powered formation flight, competitive gliding, and tailgating buses on our bikes. An analogous effect causes ships to coalesce but again it is unlikely that anyone took much notice before large, fast steamers took to the seas.
helping to stem the tide of ignorance