Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wordsworth Was Right

In Jurassic Park and a host of other SF stories, much is made of the "flocking behavior" of dinosaurs, tying them evolutionarily to birds. Many scientific disciplines -- including computer programming -- study just how that graceful simultaneous wheeling of hundreds of birds occurs. When one flyer turns, they all do.

Most of the time.

Today I was driving back from the post office and I was not in a very good mood. A flock of Canada geese flew overhead in their characteristic V, going south from Canada. This is a common sight where I live, although this group seemed to be getting a pretty late start. All at once the flock wheeled, turned, wheeled again -- except for one bird. He kept on the original path, oblivious, until something must have tipped off that he was no longer with the program. He shivered in the air, turned frantically, and began beating his little wings as hard as he could to catch up with the rest, a bird flapping to a different internal drummer.

I laughed until I had to pull the car over or risk hitting something. My mood stayed high for hours afterward. Okay, it's not the exalted feeling of transcendence that William Wordsworth got from nature in "Tintern Abbey" -- but it's still a gift from the natural world. You big-city dwellers just don't know what you're missing.


Carmen Webster Buxton said...

Some people are leaders and some are followers. Maybe this goose just wanted to be a leader? Or maybe the other geese got together and said, "Hey, let's pull a fast one on George..." You could even call it fowl play!

none said...

Reminds me of a seagull I once saw land on one of those telescopes we have at the seaside. Unfortunately for the bird, it tipped, and threw the bird off and over a wall.

I laughed and laughed.

(the bird wasn't hurt; well, maybe its dignity!)