Or is that the rules of the air? (As demonstrated by the flock of Budgerigars, above and below, photographed earlier this year by Clare)

While you were whistling at your aunt’s caged pet parakeet, you probably had no idea that it was a mastermind of flight. But Australian scientists, studying Budgies in the wild, have discovered a few simple rules that seem to dictate how flying birds avoid careening into each other:

  1. They veer right, like drivers in the United States.
  2. They shift their flight pattern slightly higher or lower.


Absent some instinctual traffic patterns like these, the skies would be a virtual mosh pit for slam-soaring birds. (Which … actually sounds kind of cool.)  Naturally, researchers are already seeking to apply these findings, namely to how mechanical drones can be programmed to mimic bird flight and escape collisions.


Written by Meredith Mann
The lowly Red-winged Blackbirds in suburban New York triggered Meredith Mann's interest in birds. Five years later, she's explored some of the the USA's coolest hotspots, from Plum Island in Massachusetts to the Magic Hedge in Chicago to the deserts of Fallon, Nevada. She recently migrated from the Windy City (where she proudly served as a Chicago Bird Collision Monitor, rescuing migrants from skyscrapers and sidewalks) to Philadelphia, where she plans to find new editing and writing gigs; keep up her cool-finds chronicle, Blog5B; and discover which cheesesteak really is the best. And she will accept any and all invitations to bird Cape May, NJ.