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Q: Bird Behavior ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Bird Behavior
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: bob49-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 14 Dec 2004 11:12 PST
Expires: 13 Jan 2005 11:12 PST
Question ID: 442524
When a flock of birds land on a telephone wire, why do almost all of
them end up facing in the same direction?
Subject: Re: Bird Behavior
Answered By: hummer-ga on 14 Dec 2004 13:27 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi  bob49,

I have it on good authority from our resident Wildlife Biologist that
birds sitting on a wire will face into the wind. That is because they
will come in for a landing facing *into* the wind and be all set for
take-off still *into* the wind (like an airplane). Also, facing into
the wind helps to retain body heat because facing the other way around
will ruffle their feathers. If it's a warm, windless day, birds will
sit every-which-way. Something of interest he just told me now is if
you're downwind from a colour-banded bird, your chances of being able
to read the band are decreased because the bird will be facing into
the wind and therefore its back and tail will be obscuring of the

"Have you ever noticed a flock of birds perched on a power line? If it
is a calm day about half of them will be facing one direction while
the other half face the opposite direction. However, if the wind
begins to blow they will eventually turn and all face the same
direction, which is, into the wind. Have you ever wondered why? On a
calm day the birds can take off and land in almost any direction. But
as the winds begin to pick up they will all take off and land into the
wind. Why? Because that is how they get the most lift. Their bodies
are designed that way. Birds facing the winds don?t get their feathers
ruffled. The winds simply flow over the contour of their bodies. But
if a bird is turned the opposite direction with its tail facing the
wind, it ruffles their feathers and they are off balance.
An airplane is the same way. It always takes off into the wind, not
with the wind, which is a tail wind. Why? Because it gives them the
lift they need to become airborne and for the airplane to fly."

Bird photography:
"Do understand, that in almost all cases, subject-to-film-plane
orientation will be determined by wind direction.  Unless it is dead
calm (or close to it), or your subjects are in a sheltered area, most
birds will face directly into the wind.  And this holds true not only
for birds in flight, but for birds resting on an open beach, for birds
perched in a tree or on a wire, or for birds sitting on a clean perch
at your feeding set-up."

Additional Links of Interest:

"White-crowned Sparrows tend to visit feeders early and late in the
day. They enjoy millet and also will eat sunflower chips and cracked
corn. They will avoid conflicts when eating by facing the same
direction as other birds. Some White-crowned Sparrows migrate; others
do not. Those that migrate join larger winter flocks and establish
communal territory. They will return each winter to the same area.
Golden-crowned Sparrows live in California eight months of the year
and spend winter along a narrow strip of the West Coast. They form
large winter flocks and cover 15 to 20 acres. They avoid face-to-face
conflict with other birds while feeding (like the White-crowned
Sparrows) by facing the same direction while feeding. " 

Himalayan Birds Face Uphill While Singing:

Thank you for the interesting question. If you have any questions,
please post a clarification request *before* closing/rating my answer
and I'll be happy to reply.

Thank you,

Google Search Terms Used:

birds facing in same direction
birds face same direction
bob49-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars

Subject: Re: Bird Behavior
From: fractl-ga on 14 Dec 2004 13:59 PST
I never knew that!  Here I was thinking 'They face whichever way they
I love this service...I learn new stuff every day!

- ltcarF

(the wind was blowing from the right)

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