Exploring the Physics of Bird V Formation for Energy Production

In summary, the conversation discusses the geometry of the V formation by migrating birds and its apparent physics in creating an energy flow that pulls along the more spent birds at the rear of the formation. The same principle can be seen in canoeing and large boats, where the lead bird creates a pressure wave that can be used by the other birds to help pull them along. This is achieved by flying just behind and outside the lead bird, disrupting the vortex and increasing lift. The conversation also mentions the idea of converting this vortex system to a water system and the similarity between wingtip vortices and wake turbulence. It is noted that the lead bird will eventually rotate to the back of the formation to rest while others take turns leading and falling in behind.
  • #1
Jug
Hello! New here. Interested in the geometry of the V formation by migrating birds. The apparent physics of the thing is that the displacement of air caused by the lead birds hepls to pull along the more spent birds at the rear of the formation - thus creating an energy flow. As an energy resources consultant I consider the geomatry of the formation as might relate to an angle of incidence relevant to other means of energy production.

Any bird ladies and gentlemen here?
 
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  • #2
I don't really know much about birds however I may be able shed some light on the "apparent physics" that pulls along the more spent birds.

The same principle applies when you are going canoeing and a large boat goes past. Now the large boat creates a wave as it pushes through the water, and if you can keep up with the larger boat ( assuming it isn't going too fast ) then you can go just in front of the wave and it will help push you along.

The same principle applies to the birds, the lead bird ( the one at the front ) has to push through the air. In doing this he creates a slight increase in the air pressure in front of his wings.

So the other more spent birds can either fly just in front of this pressure wave and be pushed by it, or more likely in regards to what you are saying fly slightly behind it.

Now because there is an increase in pressure, there is also a decrease in pressure just behind it. A little like when a bus goes past and the vacuum causes you to almost lose your hat if you are to close.

It is most likely that the more spent birds use this vacuum just behind the pressure wave to help pull them along.
 
  • #3
Wingtip vortices.

Air under a wing is at a higher pressure than air over a wing. This air 'spills out' from the lower surface toward the upper surface, creating a vortex which vastly reduces lift. Flying just behind and outside the bird in front means the vortex coming off of its wing will hit your wing on the upswing of the vortex, increasing your lift by disrupting your own vortex.
 
  • #4
Thanks to you both - good information. Will study the vortex system closer and attempt to convert it to a water system using the V formation as giving an angle of incidence.
 
  • #5
Originally posted by Jug
Thanks to you both - good information. Will study the vortex system closer and attempt to convert it to a water system using the V formation as giving an angle of incidence.

Just a note; The two phenomena are so similar that wingtip vortices are also reffered to as "wake turbulence". As the birds travell along, the lead bird will eventually pull out of his position and drift back to the last position where progress is easiest. From there, he will work his way forward (as others take lead and then fall in behind) until he is once again in lead, but more rested.
 
  • #6
Yes, Lurch, that is the idea of it sure nuff - an energy transfer system!
 

1. How do birds benefit from flying in a V formation?

Birds flying in a V formation are able to conserve energy by reducing the drag force on each individual bird. The birds at the front create an upwash of air that helps lift the birds behind them, allowing them to fly more efficiently and conserve energy.

2. How is physics involved in bird V formation?

The physics behind bird V formation involves the principles of fluid dynamics, specifically lift and drag forces. The birds in the formation take advantage of the aerodynamic properties of air to reduce drag and conserve energy.

3. Do all bird species use V formation for energy production?

While not all bird species use V formation for energy production, it is a common behavior among migratory birds, such as geese and ducks. These birds have long distance flights and need to conserve energy, making V formation an efficient strategy for energy production.

4. How does the position of each bird in the V formation affect energy production?

The position of each bird in the V formation is crucial for energy production. The birds at the front create an upwash of air, while the birds at the back experience reduced drag. The birds in the middle also benefit from reduced drag, but they may have to flap their wings more to maintain their position in the formation.

5. Are there any other benefits to flying in a V formation?

Aside from energy production, flying in a V formation also provides social benefits to birds. It allows them to communicate and stay connected with their flock, as well as keep a watchful eye out for predators. Some studies also suggest that birds may use V formation to learn from their experienced leaders and improve their navigational skills.

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