Flocks of birds have leaders, followers

I thought this comment from Steve Lamm on my posting of yesterday (4/20/10) was interesting enough to bring up front. It’s feedback on my observations of birds flying in unison. Here’s an excerpt from an NPR program by Nell Greenfield Boyce:

“For any given pair of birds, Biro says, “you can accurately work out which of them is the leader and which one of them is the follower.”

Some birds had more followers than others. This demonstrates a hierarchy of influence within the flock. “You can actually rank birds in terms of the influence that they have on others within the group,” Biro says. “Basically every individual gets a kind of a vote in what the flock does, but the weight of your vote depends on your rank, your position in the hierarchy.”

And it did turn out that highly influential birds tended to fly out in front, according to a report on the study in the journal Nature.…”


Photo of common terns in flight by Max Skwarna: https://is.gd/bCqT9

Look at those aerodynamics!

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

3 Responses to Flocks of birds have leaders, followers

  1. cool to read that, and I too heard that story on NPR… seems your readers have a thing or two in common! Hey Lloyd, do you know how far Camp Parks is away from your neck of the woods? I will be out there this summer for a military admin school and was just curious, never been to California before! Take care.

  2. Perhaps it's just me, but I always considered the 'followers' to be in a better position, if no of a higher status. Although they might not get to decide where the flock is going, they benefit from drafting on the leaders' wake.

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