Watch: Researchers find a new formation in bird flocks

Wildlife researchers have long tried to understand why birds fly in flocks and how different types of flocks work. A recent study explores the mechanics and benefits of the underlying flock structure used by four types of shorebirds. ©Gary Rosenfeld

Could understanding how birds flock help us understand why they flock? A recent study explores the mechanics of the flock structure of four types of shorebirds and what benefits it might bring. After analyzing nearly 100 hours of video footage, they found the birds fly in a newly defined shape they named a “compound V-formation” — a combination of a V-formation and a cluster formation. They believe the shape provides and aerodynamic advantage and predator protection.

Read their study in eLife here, and watch a video of their findings below.