Nature & You: Birds on a wire
Birds on a wire
As you are out and about in your vehicle, I'd encourage you do a wee bit of rubbernecking. With due diligence paid to looking ahead and being alert for danger, take a few side glances out toward the side of the roadway.
Likely as not, you're sure to observe a flock of wild birds perched on an overhead power transmission line. Pay particular attention to the orderly spacing of the birds within this flock.
I have always been curious as to how the birds accomplish this feat. Do they initially land on the wire in a mishmash of an unorganized mess? Do they, then, sort themselves out into the more-regimented spacing?
You might want to do your own bit of nature sleuthing in order to arrive at the answers to these questions.
Drill instructors of military personnel have a method of converting a slovenly mess into a neat and precise spacing of the troops under their command. They teach their soldiers to perform a task that is signaled by the command: Dress right, dress. The soldiers obediently look to the soldier at their right as they extend their left arm horizontal to the ground and pointed at the soldier to their left. This maneuver enables the soldiers to each have enough room next to them so they can march and do other drill routines.
Maybe wild birds do something similar. I do not know.
I kind of suspect that some of the reasons for the wild birds spacing themselves somewhat distant from their companions is so they have room to open their wings and effect an escape. And then, there is always the need to scooch over a little ways away from your neighbor so they cannot reach over and poke you in the eye with that sharp bill of theirs.
A lot of this conjecture is guesswork on my part. I need you to do the actual investigation.
You might want to enlist the help of your family and friends. Make it a neighborhood watch activity ... of a sorts.
— Neil Garrison, NewsOK Contributor
Neil Garrison was the longtime naturalist at a central Oklahoma nature center.