Lately, the nights have been loud with katydids and I’ve been grabbing a sweatshirt for my morning walks. Fall is definitely in the air. The geese flocks in our nearby ponds are getting restless, somehow sensing the southward journey. As the days become shorter, instinctively they’ll know it’s time to migrate.
We’re all familiar with the breathtaking sight of a flock of geese winging overhead in that “V” formation but did you know that it is a pretty perfect example of teamwork?
Scroll through for a complete look.
Go out to an area where geese are present. Typically a wide-open space near a body of water. Observe the geese and their behavior. When you see a flock flying in the “V” formation, think of these lessons and the questions you can ask your kids as you watch and observe.
As each goose flaps its wings it creates an “uplift” for the other birds that follow. By flying in a “V” formation, the whole flock creates 70% less drag than if each bird flew alone.
By working together at a problem or towards a goal we can pool our energies and talents and accomplish more than if we were on our own. Ask your child about an activity they could get done faster when working as a team.
When a goose gets sick, wounded or shot down, two geese drop out of formation and follow down to help protect it. They stay with the goose until it is able to fly again, or dies. Then together they find another formation, or they catch up with their flock.
It is important to stand by and support one another in both good and difficult times. Ask your child about a time they helped someone else who was having a tough time.
When the goose in the front position gets tired, it rotates all the way to the back of the formation and another goose flies to the front to lead the flock.
It helps when we all share the position of leading. We all have different skills and attributes and taking turns is the best way to highlight every person’s unique qualities. Ask your child what qualities they possess that are unique to them.
A flock of geese can be a noisy bunch. They all honk to encourage the geese ahead of them to keep up their speed. They are constantly supporting one another by their calls.
Everyone can benefit from a little encouragement! It feels good to hear someone say, “nice job” or “keep it up” when we’re working hard at something. Ask your child about a time they felt proud of something they accomplished and if someone recognized their hard work.
The bird world is full of some wacky stuff. From Anting to Drumming, there are so many things to discover when you take a moment and observe.
Read a bit about some of these behaviors and then take it outside! Print out the Bird Behavior Bingo worksheet and see how many of these behaviors you can spot on a walk around your neighborhood, local park, or wildlife sanctuary.
Flocking – Many species find safety in numbers in a flock. A flock can consist of one species, like Canada geese, or several; birds like grackle will tolerate many other species in their group. In a flock, many eyes and ears keep the group aware of any dangers present, as well as where to find food. Sometimes a flock will even band together to scare away predators.
Alarm Call – Birds also sound alarm calls to warn the flock. Most calls are short and simple, and are usually similar from species to species
Bathing – Whether it’s courtin’ time or not, almost all birds try to keep themselves clean. Most do so by bathing in water, while others roll around in dirt for a dust bath.
Foraging – This includes scratching at the dirt to loosen up seeds, bugs or other food or gleaning/picking food from a surface like a tree, branch, or leaves.
Preening – When they bathe, birds often get rid of feather parasites. By preening their feathers with their beaks and feet, they remove more parasites, arrange feathers, and remove dirt.
Flying – Some birds, like vultures, can catch air currents with their wings outspread and travel by soaring. Others fly by flapping their wings.
Anting – Birds sometimes sit atop an anthill and let the ants crawl over their wings, or pick them up in their beaks, crush them and rub them over their feathers. See this post for more info: Bird Brains – Anting Antics Activity
Feeding – Common feeding behaviors include ground feeding, canopy feeding, bark feeding, predatorial feeding, and aerial feeding.
Singing – Bird songs are often very complex, and are so distinct a number of species can be identified from their songs. Normally, only adult males sing, and typically only during mating season.
Go on a bird behavior walk in your neighborhood or at a local park. Look for birds foraging, preening, moving in a flock, or sounding the alarm for predators.
For a free printable bingo sheet, click here or the image below!