Monday, December 22, 2014
If you have a chance to watch a flock of geese in a field or even on the water, you will notice there is always at least one bird with head held high standing sentry for the flock.
If the flock is large, there can often be several keeping watch and scattered throughout the flock.
Cooperative watchfulness allows most of the flock to relax and graze while the duty of guarding the flock falls to a few. After a time, another goose will take up the duty and relieve the first from guard duty. How that transfer of responsibility takes place, I am not sure.
The guards are very often on the edges of the flock where they can see a threat approaching more easily.
They are not the only birds to do this, but it is easy to recognize with geese because of their size. Mixed flocks of song birds may not all understand each other's vocalizations, but they all recognize the one-note alarm call of any bird that is present and will dive into the nearest bush at it's sound.