Schools of Pigeons

Fish swim in schools that sway back and forth like the leaves of a tree in wind. It’s beautiful to watch and mesmerizing to think about why hundreds of fish move in unison in one direction, and then without seeming cause they switch and flow flawlessly in the reverse.
A friend and I watched today as a group of pigeons made their way like a school of fish across the sky. They would dart one way and then the next unpredictably. Who makes these decisions? Which bird sends the group flying in these directions? Does it make a sound? Does it tilt its wing and the rest quickly follow?

Posted May 16th, 2006 in Uncategorized.

One comment:

  1. garyoke_in_nh:

    It’s a little known fact that birds communicate in French. Small avian microphones have actually picked up the calls of the lead bird as it chirps out “au droit” or,”au gauche” thus directing the entire migrating flock. On rare occasion , a bird seem to drop out of the flock for no apparant reason. Scientists were perplexed about this for many years, until they finally deciphered the mysterious sound “smonndtpa” as lead bird’s attempts to say “Simon ne dit pas”, or “Simon didn’t say”, leading to one bird’s permanent exile from the rest of the flock. Biologists have long pondered the evolutionary advantage of this adaptation. Stephan Jay Gould has suggested that games such as this might eliminate the weaker birds who would not survive long migratory trips, such leaving the stronger “more fit” birds to pass on their genes to their offspring. Other biologists are less certain, citing the common knowledge that speaking French is simply “a good way to pick up chicks”, and may therefore lead to the long term survival of a particular species.

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