We always associate fall with southward flights of geese and ducks in formation.The stereotypical “V” formation of migrating geese, ducks, cranes, etc. is actually much more aerodynamically efficient and reduces the energy cost of long-range flight. Each bird (except the leader) can utilize the updraft (lifting power) created by the wingtips of the bird in front of it. When the leader begins to tire, another bird takes over, and the flight formation remains intact.
Follow the leader seems to be instilled in waterfowl soon after hatching, as they follow their mother (and/or father) from roosting to feeding sites. This has obvious survival advantages for the new offspring.
But it seems that this habit of follow the leader plays out while walking and swimming as well. Minnesota drivers are very familiar with traffic jams imposed by a herd of geese crossing the road, deliberately slow-paced plodders that walk single file in an unending line. It’s like waiting for a train to clear the railroad crossing.