Flap artists: Birds sync wing beats in V formation

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Associated Press

Posted on January 15, 2014 at 1:02 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 15 at 1:02 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — A new study says that when birds fly in a V formation, they choreograph the flapping of their wings to help them on their way.

Researchers discovered that from tracking a group of large black birds called northern bald ibises. They put a tiny GPS device on each bird to record its position and every wing flap.

Scientists believe birds fly in a V for aerodynamic reasons. The idea is that a bird gets a boost from an updraft of air in the wake of the bird ahead of it. That lets it save energy as it flies. The new study found evidence that birds coordinate their wing flapping with the bird ahead to make the most of this updraft.

The work was published online Wednesday by the journal Nature.

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