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How Does a Bird Join a Flock?

05/27/2009 9:01 AM

i am working on the flying pattern of birds ... can anyone please tell me how a bird decides to join a flock of birds instead of flying individually what is the attractive force that does this

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#1

Re: how does a bird join a flock

05/27/2009 9:17 AM

I don't know how they join, but check out this recent thread about why:

http://cr4.globalspec.com/blogentry/8779/A-Flock-of-Birds-CR4-Challenge-04-21-09

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: how does a bird join a flock

05/27/2009 9:23 AM

i have gone through that thread i need to know any reason or the condition when they try to form the flock..

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#7
In reply to #2

Re: how does a bird join a flock

05/27/2009 7:04 PM

As noted by Bricktop, that's a great thread about why birds flock in formation: for aeorodynamic benefits. That applies to ducks and geese in particular: you can see why when you see their shape and style of flying. Two ducks will adopt the formation just as a group forms a bigger V. They look like little rowboats in the sky: much flapping. Birds that mainly soar and/or glide can also benefit from group aerodynamics but it's not such a big deal.

Birds that flock to migrate are gathering at a specific time of the season because they know they're getting ready to fly north (or south) and they stand a better chance of surviving if they travel as a group. Not only aerodynamic benefits, safety in numbers, but also, if you're blown off course in a storm, you'll have a better chance of survival if there are others of your kind. Common bird sense.

For a migrating flock, the objective 'reason or condition when they try to form the flock' is probably day length primarily and secondarily temperature. There might be other reasons specific to the local economy: such as the berries are all gone, or the insects have hibernated, or... other seasonal food related stuff.

But non-migratory birds flock simply because they are gregarious. That means, they enjoy one anothers company, and that is reason enough.

Ravens are an example of birds that often form large flocks which have no migratory purpose. However they aren't always in a flock, they also scatter in pairs during the breeding season. They operate as a dispersed network at those times: you can hear local ravens messaging distant ones at regular time of day (usually early morning). They come together to form large flocks at any time of the year apparently for the social activities. If something unexpected comes up, a small group forms, and some are dispatched to fetch others. They sometimes have gatherings that resemble our court proceedings. In harsh weather there are probably other advantages to sheltering as a large group. But if they do shelter as a flock, they will also use rough windy weather as an opportunity for aerobatic challenges and games, sending up challengers two at a time for the entertainment of the group....

These flocking behaviors are probably typical of ravens anywhere in the world.

gregarioius flocking birds:http://www.birding.in/birds/Passeriformes/Corvidae/common_raven.htm

aerobatics, play and fun:

Hokkaido Japan ravens: http://www.soc.nii.ac.jp/osj/japanese/katsudo/Journal_E/ornsci1_1pdfs/os010207.pdf

Santa Cruz ravens elibrary.unm.edu/sora/Auk/v101n03/p0620-p0621.pdf

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#9
In reply to #7

Re: how does a bird join a flock

05/28/2009 2:51 AM

can u please suggest me any book on birds ,also can u give me any idea how do the birds search food in groups and is der any mechanism in birds like one in the ants in indicating that food exists here

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#12
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Re: how does a bird join a flock

05/28/2009 6:59 AM

Sorry, no book. Try google. As for searching for food, think about it. Birds have sight: birds in fllight have a vantage point: birds know and recognize their own habitat from the air by sight. Habitat is the sort of place they expect food to be found. They check it out by descending to the place, and they let others know by singing out.

Think about the mistaken habitat problem: ducks or geese descending into toxic tailing ponds with massive loss of life. This is all about seeing it from a distance and hoping to find food when you land.

Birds have good sight and hearing, but a poor sense of smell. Ants use chemotaxis - touch and sense chemicals (pheromones) - which is more like a special sense of "smell". That is appropriate to animals living on the ground.

Ducks or geese apparently don't perceive the tailing pond is contaminated until it is too late. They don't smell it as they draw near; or maybe they can't stop their descent at that point (vis a vis: their specific flight style and equipment).

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#14
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Re: how does a bird join a flock

05/28/2009 7:26 AM

thanx for the reply its given me a clue.. how do u come to know about these do u have any references? and

one more query i have read that birds depend on sun...stars and also direction of winds to fly can u explain them in detial..

and also do these migrations help other birds in finding their food like the ants do by depositing the pheromones so that ants that follow the path come to know abt the location of the food

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#20
In reply to #14

Re: how does a bird join a flock

05/28/2009 1:14 PM

Do your own home work...

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#25
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Re: how does a bird join a flock

05/28/2009 6:46 PM

There are about 75 pages on bird evolution/physiology of flight etc etc in "The Life of Vertebrates by JZ Young. Very general because it's so broad.

I agree with Silcrow that you should choose what species you're interested in and go research it. Also you will liearn more by watching birds than you will by just reading about them.

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#19
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Re: how does a bird join a flock

05/28/2009 12:43 PM

There is no one answer for your query. It depends upon the type of bird. Sanderlings form one type of flock for different reason than seagulls form a flock. Ducks and geese from another type of flock and for different reasons. Crows also form flocks that are different than all of the previous bird flock types. If you really need to study bird flocks, pick a type of bird and learn all you can about that type of bird. You might be able to narrow down some commonalities in some categories of bird like water birds or shore birds but some types of bird don't flock. Every see a flock hummingbirds?

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#3

Re: how does a bird join a flock

05/27/2009 9:33 AM

They join because of instinct.

How - They fill in the form JoinZF005 in triplicate.

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#4

Re: how does a bird join a flock

05/27/2009 10:17 AM

Protection in numbers same as fish school and beast herd together. There more eyes to keep watch for dangers. When attacked confusion with in a flock, school, or herd makes it hard for the predator to pick one individual to attack. I don't think its decided more learned habit and instinct. Those species that are prey that learn this survived those that did got ate and are no longer with us.

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#5
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Re: how does a bird join a flock

05/27/2009 10:59 AM

Correct ozzb - otherwise they end up like this....heh, chasin' roosters

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#6

Re: how does a bird join a flock

05/27/2009 12:31 PM

I'm almost positive it has something to do with static electricity. The flapping motion of their wings generates charges which attract them together. That's also how big disorganized flocks can weave about in wildly changing directions. Some of the birds have the same charge and therefore repel each other, helping avoid mid-air collisions.

This may also explain how thunderstorms start. Charged birds fly through some otherwise harmless clouds, some charge rubs off and before you can say "grab your brolly" the rain begins.

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#13
In reply to #6

Re: how does a bird join a flock

05/28/2009 7:13 AM

Your "static" theory makes no sense to me. If birds had a charge on them, it would surely interfere with feather function. Feather function is necessary for flight. Birds preen or oil their feathers to keep em together. Look at how a feather is constructed: many tiny independent bits that lie together or fluff apart. Down is fluffy for warmth: flight feathers would be totally messed up if there were static charges forcing these bits apart.....

As for static repulsion in flight helping "avoid mid-air collisions" I suggest you experiment with yourself and a pet. Charge ye up and see if it will stop a collision. Static electric forces are too weak to produce such an effect on anything more massive than a balloon...

I leave it to the electrical and weather experts to further debunk this or "shock" me by explaining that I'm wrong....

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#15
In reply to #13

Re: how does a bird join a flock

05/28/2009 9:49 AM

I expected such skepticism. All the greatest minds were looked upon with similar disdain. People told the Wright brothers that they'd never be able to charge $1 for a checked bag. Children in the street ridiculed Marconi that he was crazy for thinking they'd walk around with headphones on. And even today we all know how wretched we feel for mocking the brilliant Snuggie.

My theories are sound I tell you! And your own avatar is proof. What is that bird resting upon? It's an electric lamp! Obviously it was either drawn there by stray charges or else it was cleverly soaking up excess energy so that it wouldn't have to flap so much. Everyone knows how smart birds are - they use tools you know!

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#18
In reply to #15

Re: how does a bird join a flock

05/28/2009 12:00 PM

Makita, no less.

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#21
In reply to #18

Re: how does a bird join a flock

05/28/2009 2:17 PM

Or Blackbird & Decker. Whatever's on sale.

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#26
In reply to #15

Re: how does a bird join a flock

05/28/2009 6:56 PM

disdain... ridicule..?? ah pshaw it's true I said "debunk".

But your theory sounded like something dreamed up in a bunk, so.... sign in, really, so we can see your avatar in de bunk in which you lay

As for MY avatar... the lamp is OFF I tell you.... can't you tell?

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#27
In reply to #26

Re: how does a bird join a flock

05/28/2009 7:31 PM

But is it really off...or is it merely dimmed to a non-illuminated state because the dark bird has absorbed all the electricity?

I will eventually be vindicated. They will some day build statues of me. Upon which my charged birds will poo.

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#8

Re: How Does a Bird Join a Flock?

05/28/2009 12:49 AM

Birds of a feather flock together

You know some birds that use cognitive thought?

Where are they playing

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#10

Re: How Does a Bird Join a Flock?

05/28/2009 4:22 AM

It's all a matter of efficiency on the flying action: The birds which fly in the front end of the flying pattern produce (with their wings) an upward airstream. This airstream helps the birds which follow to fly more easily. When a bird tends to recede from the flock, it feels the extra difficulty on the flying action and (because of this) the bird approaches again the flock. A very efficient pattern for the flying action is the V pattern. (The bird which flies in the front end has to do more work but all the birds of the flock take this position successively.)

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#11
In reply to #10

Re: How Does a Bird Join a Flock?

05/28/2009 5:12 AM

thanx for the reply. can u plzz suggest me any books on this topic. It would be of great help to him. i would be thankful to you if you can mail me the ebooks related to it if u have them

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#30
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Re: How Does a Bird Join a Flock?

06/02/2009 11:59 AM

Sorry... I don't know any books on this subject... I've read it once in a scientific article...

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#16

Re: How Does a Bird Join a Flock?

05/28/2009 10:33 AM

Most birds communicate by telepathy. There is a pecking order in birds. The younger birds must know the leader of the birds, or do favors for the lead bird. In that manor the lead bird will send an invitation to the new bird to join. There are some involved rituals that the young birds must perform before he will be accepted. Rome times is will be a race or some stunt flying. Other times he will be dispatched to fly through a pane of glass.

Try a search of a particular breed of bird, then search that bird's migratory habits, also how the bird interacts with other birds. Good luck.

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#17

Re: How Does a Bird Join a Flock?

05/28/2009 11:55 AM

Are we sure they're not just sending a "vat" signal?

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#22

Re: How Does a Bird Join a Flock?

05/28/2009 4:03 PM

A single bird would join a flock by merging in the rearward portion, then progress towards the front as other birds tired.

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#23
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Re: How Does a Bird Join a Flock?

05/28/2009 4:25 PM

Your statement is true for ducks and geese and some other types of flocks that fly in formation when they migrate but is not true for crows or sanderlings and certainly not pelicans that don't change position even though they have straight line "patrols". The leader only changes when it drops out for food. Most types of birds don't fly in formation when they fly in a group. A new bird joining the group just flies up from wearever it is and flys along joining the group at the point closest to where its starting point was.

Did you ever watch two adult mallards fly together. Have you ever seen the female in the lead?

Sanderling flocks are ball shaped and very close together. They do not appear to have a leader but turn more as a gestalt. They are being studied because it appears that every bird turns the same direction at the exact same time in their flocks.

Yes I am a bird watcher. I am less active than I used to be. I have published some quite nice photos of rare birds and birds in unusual places.

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#24

Re: How Does a Bird Join a Flock?

05/28/2009 4:44 PM

Your initial question is anthropomorphic. Birds are not people. They have different societal and nutritional needs than people. They're also many different species of birds, each with their own needs.

Having said that, there really is only two approaches I see that answer your specific question.

First, that God shaped the bird's instincts to flock. Having done so, it is best not to question His reasons. (Ok that was a bit over the top, even for me. )

Second, that flocking improved the chances for the species to survive. Taking this approach you maybe able to identify triggering mechanisms that increase the odds of flocking. Certainly this will change from species to species and by circumstance. Some plausible triggers are the seasonal change in prey activity, group think ability to respond to predators from multiple directions, the aid in airborne drafting cited by others permitting longer and higher flight for migration.

I would recommend seeking advice from some animal behaviorists in your quest. (While it may seem like some engineers have bird brains from time to time, it eludes me why you came here with your question. )

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#29
In reply to #24

Re: How Does a Bird Join a Flock?

05/29/2009 9:05 PM

Shooters follow the migrations, snares catch the browsers but another bird trap is just a cage with a one way door. Because birds are social they walk in to keep the bait bird company because the bait bird cant help but become chatty. The hard thing to understand is that birds must be socializing, it is in their natural requirement. So when pet owners buy ducks they usually buy in pairs for the socialization requirements. Similarly when flying the social birds need society and with that they have been discussing perfect flying forms aswell as the pecking order. Some demonstrate the vee form because they travel further and it works best socially and aerodynamically!

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#28

Re: How Does a Bird Join a Flock?

05/28/2009 9:17 PM

Check into the concept of emergence. It suggests the possibility that seemingly inteligent behavior of masses of organisms have group behavior because of simple individual rules. The article I read specifically discussed birds flocking and fish schooling as being examples of this phenomena. I think I read about it in Scientific American or American Scientist or MIT Magazine.

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