Goose Sense


My teachers in grade school taught me that the proper way to describe a lot of geese is to say, “A gaggle of geese.”  I never could bring myself to say gaggle without a giggle. (giggle)


The reason that I bring this up is because I looked up this morning and right there in the sky was a large gaggle (giggle) of geese flying in their well-known “V” formation.  It is interesting to me to watch them because of their ability to position themselves the way that they do. 


Most of us have probably heard the old expression or heard someone exclaim, “He doesn’t’ have the sense of a goose!” while pointing out someone’s lack of common sense.  I now look at that expression in a different light.  I believe it is meant to be a positive statement rather than maligning the reputation of the poor goose in question.


Scientists say that geese fly in a “V” formation for good reason.  It is because as a goose flaps its wings, it creates uplift for the bird immediately behind it.  Flying in this “V” formation gives the gaggle (giggle) at least a 71 per cent greater flying range than if a bird flew alone.  If a goose falls out of formation, it will immediately feel the drag and resistance of being by itself and will quickly get back into formation where it will feel the lifting power from the bird in front once again.


The lead goose has the toughest job of all breaking through the wind but the ones behind him are believed to be honking encouragement to the ones in front.  I wonder if it might be the goose version of a “V” formation of soldiers voicing their cadence as they soar through the sky.  As they continue their flight, when the lead goose gets tired, he simply falls to the back in the formation and another goose takes his place in the lead position. 


If a goose gets sick or wounded and has to drop out of formation, two other geese will drop out with it and stay to protect and help it until that goose either gets well or dies. At such time, they will either catch up or join another formation of geese. 


Perhaps, we humans could learn a lot from the geese.  It seems to me that we could use a little “goose sense” these days. How often do we try to do something all on our own instead of trying to get along and working with others?  We would all get a lot further by lifting one another up as we make our journey in life. We would get where we are going easier and much more quickly too.  It seems we humans are often fighting over who is going to be the lead goose before we even get into formation.


As for honking encouragement to those up ahead, I’m not sure, but I seem to hear quite a of honking in traffic these days.  Somehow, I get the feeling that they aren’t honks of encouragement.  Rather, it is usually more like honks of impatience and annoyance. 


Most importantly, how many of us would fall out of formation and just stay with another person until they were able to take up the journey once more?


The next time you see a gaggle (giggle) of geese, I hope it reminds you to encourage those in your formation.  Just remember if someone tells you that you have the sense of a goose, just say, “Thank you!”



Pamela R. Blaine

© December 29, 2003