Tight Formation Flight

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Three non breeding Adult Brown Pelicans in flight in tight formation against blue sky (sandra calderbank)

As I walked along the Sebastian River, hoping to capture some birds on camera, I spotted something in the distance flying towards me. Initially, I thought I saw one gigantic bird. As it approached, I realized there were three Brown Pelicans in a tight formation flight.

I have seen massive flocks of Pelicans fly in V formation before. They fly in V-formation because they conserve energy. The upstroke of one bird’s wing creates an updraft and the following bird saves a significant amount of energy. The trailing pelican’s heart beats slower than the lead bird because the trailing pelican flaps less than the leader.

These three Pelicans just seemed to fly along in tight formation flight like an acrobatic display. The lead Pelican soared to the right of the other two. I like to think they were putting on a show for me.


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