Why don’t birds fly into each other in flocks?


*_Why don’t birds fly into each other in flocks?_*

I am pretty sure that you’ve seen such birds flying over/around in your area and wondered why they don’t collide while flying, haven’t you?

Now get your safari seat/couch and get your mind blowed by this phenomenon.

Flocks of larger bird species usually only number a few individuals flying at a leisurely pace on a direct and fairly constant flight path, and they’re consequently not in serious danger of collisions (the likes of herons, Grey crowned cranes, you can mention them).

Smaller bird species tend to flock in much bigger numbers with erratic flight paths, and the attacks of predators, such as falcons, make collision likely. When grasses are seeding, *Red-billed Queleas* (which happened to raise the eye-brows of many farmers in the Eastern Uganda mid 2021) take this to extremes with dense flocks numbering millions, resembling swarms of locusts (if you are Ugandan, I am pretty sure that you remember the *Enzige* – local name for locusts, era – which was another threat to the Eastern Uganda farmers in 2020).

Birds have excellent vision and can detect even the most subtle change in space and movement. Each bird, whether at rest or in flight, has an exact personal space – you can simply call it a personal zone if you are familiar with taking life easy 😉, around its body in all directions – called the *individual distance*. They don’t like this space being encroached upon just like humans in their so called personal spaces 😛. Smaller birds are at a higher risk to predation than larger birds and their eyes are placed on the side of the head so they can see all around themselves for danger.

When an individual within a flock moved towards and encroaches on this personal space of the bird next to it, the neighbor immediately (within milliseconds) detects the closure of space and moves in the opposite direction to open the gap again. In so doing, it then encroaches on another bird’s space which also reacts in the same manner and this goes through the entire flock in a chain reaction that from outside makes it look like the flock is moving in waves.

Because individual birds towards the edge of the flock are more at risk to the influence of predators and wind, they’re the ones prone to erratic movements and ultimately, therefore, determine the direction of movement of the entire flock.

Yeah, that’s it for now and hope you enjoyed the read!

Thanks for sparing a moment to read through. Stay blessed.