Honkers and Windbreakers

Why do geese fly across the sky in their strictly patterned V formation?  Why do they honk as they fly through the air?

The geese form a wall to block the wind and lessen the group’s overall effort to fly through the air.  The goose up front faces the wind head-on, causing less drag on the others.  Birds flying behind the leader benefit from the reduced wind, enabling them to fly longer and further. 

The leaders flying against the wind won’t have the energy to fly up front for the entire journey.  A flock, needing to travel fast to survive, will easily wear out front-flyer after front-flyer.  The group flying honks to keep the head goose in place longer.  

The honking expresses encouragement to the Windbreaker goose who is facing the wind on behalf of them all.  The louder they honk, the longer the leader will keep facing the oncoming wind. 

When the leader finally wears out, it drops back to assume a different place.  Another becomes the Windbreaker and the prior leader will become a Honker to help the new leader stay out front.  

Together, Honkers and Windbreakers, the entire flock flies on to its destination. 

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Alison Hoffman

has more than 25 years of experience in strategy, operations, mergers and acquisitions and delivering business-to-business client solutions. Her areas of expertise include managing operations for profitable growth, organizational design and strategy activation. She brings a wealth of experience through her work in evaluating, valuing and purchasing over 30 companies, leading company-wide cultural and business integration projects and consolidating best practices among business processes and corresponding computing systems. Read Full Bio