Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Bird flight

Fly with a little flap from your friends

In-air measurements of northern bald ibises flying in a V formation show that the birds conform to predictions for saving energy by regulating their relative body position and synchronizing their flapping motion. See Letter p.399

This is a preview of subscription content

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Spatial synchrony.


  1. Ning, S. A. Aircraft Drag Reduction Through Extended Formation Flight. PhD thesis, Stanford Univ. (2011).

    Google Scholar 

  2. Vachon, M. J., Ray, R., Walsh, K. & Ennix, K. in AIAA Atmos. Flight Mech. Conf. Exhib. Abstr. 2002-4491 (Am. Inst. Aeron. Astronautics, 2002);

    Google Scholar 

  3. Willis, D. J., Peraire, J. & Breuer, K. S. 25th AIAA Appl. Aerodynam. Conf. Abstr. 2007-4182 (2007);

    Google Scholar 

  4. Portugal, S. J. et al. Nature 505, 399–402 (2014).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Lissaman, P. B. S. & Lundry, J. L. J. Aircr. 5, 17–21 (1968).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Hummel, D. J. Theor. Biol. 104, 321–347 (1983).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Badgerow, J. & Hainsworth, F. J. Theor. Biol. 93, 41–52 (1981).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Maeng, J.-S., Park, J.-H., Jang, S.-M. & Han, S.-Y. J. Theor. Biol. 320, 76–85 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Weimerskirch, H., Martin, J., Clerquin, Y., Alexandre, P. & Jiraskova, S. Nature 413, 697–698 (2001).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Florian T. Muijres.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Muijres, F., Dickinson, M. Fly with a little flap from your friends. Nature 505, 295–296 (2014).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

Further reading


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing