A Serendipitous Photo Captures an Acrobatic Goose Contorting Its Body to Fly Upside Down
An uncanny shot by Dutch photographer Vincent Cornelissen is leading a chase for answers after it shows a Bean goose performing aerial acrobatics. Taken in March near the small town of Arnhem, The Netherlands, the odd image captures the bird with its body turned upside down and head and neck twisted back 180 degrees, a seemingly silly stunt that’s actually a maneuver called whiffling. The common flight behavior is used to accelerate its descent by inverting typical wing aerodynamics, allowing the creature to plummet rapidly and avoid predators.
There’s speculation about whether this adolescent goose was showing off, though, with Bird Protection Netherlands conservationist Lars Soerink likening the bizarre move to bragging. “Once young geese have mastered flying, they start to see what is possible and how far they can go,” he says in an interview. “They (could) do it to brag to their peers. Like, look at me!”