Geese are known for their huge personalities, often dominating the edges of lakes where tourists gather. But, wild geese are very much team players when it comes to their gaggle. They migrate together each year, the birds taking turns as to who leads the V formation so that no one member of the skein gets over taxed. And, of course they begin practicing a few weeks beforehand to make sure they’re all on the same page. But, even with this strong group spirit, there can be the occasional loose cannon in the group and recently a bird enthusiast caught one in the act.
Dutch photographer Vincent Cornelissen is a big fan of birds, often snapping photos of them and posting the images to his Instagram account. But, recently he took a photo that stunned him and has been making people all over the internet crack up. What he captured was a young goose flying in an upside down manner. Lest anyone think that the bird was falling, the goose’s head was very much right side up so that it could see where it was going!
The photo was taken during on a stormy March day near Arnhem in the Netherlands. In his caption for the post, which includes slides of other birds as well, Cornelissen said that the goose “didn’t know how to fly because of the wind.”
In a later interview Cornelissen said, “The weather was bad, so I put on my waterproofs and sat with my back against a tree looking over a lake…I saw that one of the three had trouble flying in a straight line. He was having a hard time which I thought was because of the wind. He seemed to be struggling, so I took some pictures of him.” He also said that the photo looked so wacky that he was afraid people would think he Photoshopped the strange flying position.
This bird’s behavior is known as “whiffling” and it can control the speed of landing. The bird drops a little faster by turning its back to the ground and continues to flap its wings. During the rotation the head stays upright in normal position, giving the act a very odd look. Whiffling is employed by several different species of birds, though it helps to have a long and/or highly mobile neck in order to easily make this maneuver happen in the air.
According to Dutch conservationist, Lars Soerink, young geese may do flying maneuvers to practice them and to perhaps show off a bit to their peers.