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Monday 29th August 2016
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How do birds fly in flocks? Is there a leader?


Flocks of birds tend to move in unison. So do they have a leader which they all follow as they are flying?
Mark, Marble Arch
(James O'Brien: So you want to know if there is such a thing as a Josef Starling?)


** Definitive **
Name: Gary, Bishopsgate
Answer: It’s a defence mechanism that all birds who flock together have. One bird out of the millions will fly if they see something dangerous and the one close will copy exactly what he does. Each one will just copy what the one in front does.

** Definitive, but in longer words! **
Name: Rob
Answer: Each of the birds follows simple mathematical rules. These are follow the action of the general flock and keep your distance. There’s no one bird that is the leader, but it if a small proportion of the birds change direction, the rest will all follow. A starting point, like Gary’s bird which is startled, will lead to a predictable but hard to measure phenomenon.

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