Flexi Says: Flying in a V-shaped formation helps birds save energy. As a bird flaps its wings, the air below the wing gets pushed downward, and then rolls back upward slightly behind the wing. Another bird that positions itself in just the right place diagonally behind the first bird can catch a draft on the upward-flowing air. Recent studies of large flying birds called ibises showed that the birds in a V-formation carefully time their wing flaps to catch the upward drafts of the birds in front of them. Scientists estimate that birds can use 20% to 30% less energy by flying in a V-formation.