We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

Why Don't Birds Ever Collide?

Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGEEK is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At DelightedCooking, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

You’d think that with all the flocks of birds navigating the sky, there would be the occasional head-on collision. But birds are highly skilled aviators with fast reflexes -- and a good understanding of what to do when two are on the same flight path. A recent study at Australia’s University of Queensland found that birds appear to know to veer right if another is headed straight at them.

The researchers tested seven male budgerigars (also known as “budgies” or parakeets) in a 70-foot (21.3 m) tunnel over a four-day period, and recorded zero mishaps. About 85 percent of the time, the birds veered right, and often adjusted their altitude to avoid mid-air crashes.

The aerial rules of engagement:

  • In the study, the birds rarely flew at the same height, suggesting that individual birds may have specific altitude preferences.
  • Interestingly, aircraft pilots are taught to veer to the right when they perceive an imminent head-on collision with another aircraft, said Mandyam V. Srinivasan, head of the research group.
  • Birds are more prone to collisions with man-made obstacles. Sometimes, birds fail to see wires, especially near dawn or at night. Reflections from glass windows can also fool them, sometimes with deadly results.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do birds avoid collisions in the sky?

Birds have evolved remarkable aerial agility and spatial awareness to avoid collisions. They utilize quick reflexes, excellent vision, and an innate understanding of the flock's dynamics. According to studies, birds also follow 'rules of the road,' such as veering to the right and coordinating turns with neighbors, which helps prevent in-air accidents.

Do birds communicate to avoid collisions?

Yes, birds communicate to maintain flock cohesion and avoid collisions. They use visual signals and calls to alert each other of their positions and intentions. Research indicates that birds in flocks are highly attuned to their neighbors' movements, allowing them to synchronize their flight patterns and navigate safely.

What role does a bird's vision play in preventing collisions?

A bird's vision is crucial for collision avoidance. Birds have a wide field of view, with some species having nearly 360-degree vision. This allows them to see other birds around them while flying. Additionally, their ability to process visual information quickly enables them to make rapid in-flight adjustments to their trajectory.

Are there any specific flight formations that reduce the risk of collisions?

Yes, many birds fly in specific formations that reduce collision risk. For example, geese fly in a V-formation, which improves aerodynamics and allows each bird to keep others in sight, minimizing the chance of accidents. Similarly, starlings perform complex aerial ballets called murmurations, where tight, coordinated patterns ensure individual space.

How do new birds learn to avoid collisions when joining a flock?

New birds learn to avoid collisions through imitation and instinct. Young birds observe and mimic the flight patterns of experienced flock members. Their innate programming for spatial awareness and reflexive responses also plays a role. Over time, they refine their skills through practice and learning from near-misses within the safety of the flock.

Can technology mimic birds' collision avoidance to improve aircraft safety?

Technology is indeed looking to mimic birds' collision avoidance strategies to improve aircraft safety. Researchers are studying avian flight patterns and communication to develop algorithms for autonomous drones and aircraft. Such biomimicry could lead to advanced collision avoidance systems that are more responsive and efficient in crowded skies.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

WiseGEEK, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGEEK, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.