As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Two heads better than one? Homing pigeons flap faster to fly together

AUGUST 7, 2019

Wildlife researchers have long tried to understand why birds fly in flocks, ranging from structured V-formations to loose clusters that involve complex aerodynamic interactions between group members. Frequently cited benefits of collective travel include improved flight efficiency, enhanced navigation and greater safety from predators.

Partially supported by the EU-funded HawkEye project, a team of researchers have found that homing pigeons expend more energy flying in pairs rather than solo. Their findings were published in the journal PLOS Biology. "As expected, paired individuals benefited from improved homing route accuracy, which reduced flight distance by 7 percent and time by 9 percent."

In a press release by the University of Oxford's Department of Zoology, the study's lead author Dr. Lucy Taylor says: "The results of this study were completely unexpected. Energy is the currency of life so it's astonishing that the birds are prepared to pay a substantial energetic cost to fly together."

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