I sat in my tree stand the other day quietly waiting for the right deer to come along.
As I’ve said before, I’m not a patient person. I’m not a good sitter, so I have to find something to occupy my mind.
High overhead, I heard a flock of Canada geese honking its way south. Ever since I was a little boy, I’ve been fascinated by the goose migration and what seemed to be an unusual flight pattern. Why do they fly in a “V” formation, and how do they know where they are going?
The first part of this question is easy. Flying in a “V” formation is more aerodynamic. Sure the lead goose has to work harder than the rest, but when he tires, he moves partway back in the flock where he can fly easier and get a rest. The lead geese break up the air that creates drag. This same philosophy is used by race-car drivers when they stay right behind another car.
Scientists also feel that the “V” pattern makes it easier for them to see and communicate with each other.
As for the second part of the question — how do they know where they are going? Darned if I know, and I don’t think scientists know, either. Geese migrating from northern Canada will land on the same ponds and lakes every year on their way south. Heck, some drivers I know couldn’t find the same place two years in a row if their lives depended on it. Thank God for the GPS.
So after the third high-flying flock went by, I wondered what other strange things happen in nature.
Why do the swallows in California return to the Capistrano Mission on March 19th every year? Do they realize people are holding a big party or what? Maybe, but for centuries the swallows have returned to Capistrano on the exact same day. Why? How? I have no idea.