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Lessons from the Whooping Crane: What a Healthy Competitive Working Style Looks Like

Whooping cranes in flight

Whooping cranes in flight (Photo credit: USFWS Mountain Prairie)

From the Winter 2012-2013 issue of Bird Conservation, Joseph Duff, C.E.O. of Operation Migration, writes:

The lead bird does most of the work, but not from any sense of duty. Instead, he is out front because he is the strongest and most aggressive and has pushed his way to the lead. The bird behind can feel the lift created by the vortices his wingtips generate, and instinctively learns to take advantage of that assistance by flying just off to one side. Each bird in the row adds to that wake, creating more lift for the one behind until the last bird in the row adds to that wake, creating more lift for the one behind until the last bird is gaining the most benefit. Each individual pushes its way forward according to endurance. That aggressive behavior and their instinct to find the easiest way to fly gives the flock a common endurance so the weaker birds can keep up with the strongest. Throughout the line, birds will challenge the one ahead of them much like a competitive cyclist will tuck in behind the leader, waiting for an opportunity to steal the lead when he shows signs of fatigue. Without that ability, the flock could not stay together. Read more of this post

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