The Isles of Capri fall festival had an unplanned special performance last weekend that brought all of the events to a halt. Attendees stopped what they were doing and looked up at the most miraculous performance given by an enormous number of pelicans flying in formation over the festival grounds.

At first the birds were flying east, and as if sensing an audience, made a 90-degree turn south that put them dead center over the Capri Church parking lot where attendees were engaged in festival activities. The sun was at just the right angle to capture the beauty of their wings and patterns of flight. They appeared to dip down lower to be sure that all who were present saw them.

When you see birds flying in formation, you might wonder what science has discovered to explain why they fly that way. Formations vary from V to U to straight or curved lines, but each of the patterns offers a similar explanation.

As each bird in the formation flaps its wings, it creates uplift for the bird that is immediately behind it. When birds fly in formation, the whole flock adds up to at least 50 percent greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own, according to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

This scientific phenomenon has lent itself to numerous lessons in teamwork and inspirational stories that are used universally. One such inspirational story is titled “Do We Have as Much Sense as a Goose,” author unknown. It is thought that this story was taken from “Lessons from Geese,” written in 1972 by Dr. Robert McNeish of Baltimore.

McNeish, a science teacher before becoming a school administrator, had been intrigued with observing geese for years. He first wrote the piece for a sermon he delivered in his church in which he totally documented his research. This "Lessons from the Geese" is now used worldwide to point out the value of teamwork.

In a nutshell, the moral of the story is that when people share a common direction and sense of community, they can get where they are going more quickly and easily because they are traveling on the thrust of one another, just like the geese, or any other flock of birds.

When a bird 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 of it. “If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay in formation with those people who are headed the same way we are,” wrote McNeish in his story about geese.

“When the head goose gets tired, it rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point. It is sensible to take turns doing demanding jobs, whether with people or with geese flying south. Geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed,” wrote McNeish. When a goose gets sick or is wounded by a gunshot, and falls out of formation, two other geese fall out with that goose and follow it down to lend help and protection. “If we have the sense of a goose, we will stand by each other like that.”

Residents of the Isles of Capri like to think they do just that. They band together and stand up for one another. Thus, Capri Community Inc. the islands’ civic association’s new lead bird/president, Randy Whitson, is placing a copy of the association’s Island Voice Newsletter on the doorknobs of each house, condo and business encouraging all to join the association this year and become one flock working together. Their general meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month from November through April.

Contact Ann Hall at

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