It’s the oldest joke in waterfowl hunting. An old fellow looks up at a “V” shaped formation of ducks migrating across the sky. He looks at his companion, and says,
“Do you know why the one side of the “V” is longer than the other?”
The companion, expecting some scientific factoid about air movement, or the hierarchy in flocks of ducks, of course responds in the negative. To which the old fellow replies,
“There are more ducks on that side.”
But the true beauty of the “V” formation is in aerodynamics. The duck in the front of the flock produces rolling currents of air as he beats his wings. These rolling currents produce updrafts, which reduce the amount of work the birds directly behind the leader are forced to do. Every bird that flies behind another benefits. The lead bird changes on long flights, spreading out the workload.
It is not just ducks that fly in the “V” pattern, geese, ibis, swans and other shore and marsh birds do as well, while birds such as pelicans tend to fly and glide in lines.
This week I’m pretty positive that the Rosy Bills are starting to migrate across Argentina. I know Charlie will be watching them at Jacana, and long V’s of big, dark ducks will be needing some rest, and coming to the decoys soon. The same with Ariel and the boys at Los Crestones. Meanwhile, nobody else in the country will even bother to look up–so transfixed is the entire country on the World Cup!
Be safe, and have fun wherever you are traveling this week!