Most of Lorenz’s research centres on the study of wild geese.
His work gave rise to the Max Plank Institute for Behavioural Physiology.
Often referred to as the father of modern etiology, Lorenz coined the term ‘imprint’. He discovered that the learning process depends on a combination of factors, innate knowledge and learning from individual experience.
This autumn, when you see geese heading South for the winder and flying along in a “V” formation, you might consider what science has discovered as to why they fly that way. As each bird flaps its wings, it creates ‘uplift’ for the bird immediately following. By flying in a “V” formation, the whole flock adds at least 70% greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own.
People who share common direction and sense of community can get where they are going more quickly and easily, because they are travelling on the thrust of each other. When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird in front.
If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay in formation with those who are heading the same way that we are.
When the lead goose gets tires, it rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point. It is sensible to take turns doing demanding jobs with people or with geese flying South. Geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up speed. Finally, and this is important, when a goose gets sick or is wounded by gunshots, and falls out of formation, two other geese fall out with that goose and follow it down to lend a helping hand and for protection. They stay with the fallen goose until it is able to fly or until it dies. Only then do they launch out on their own or with another formation to catch up with their group.
If we had the sense of a goose, we would stand by each other like that.
By Angeles Arrien, 1991 based on the work of Milton Olson