This Bird Sleeps, Eats, Drinks and even Mates in the Air!

  • Author: Admin
  • November 08, 2022
This Bird Sleeps, Eats, Drinks and even Mates in the Air!

The swift is a medium-sized aerial bird, which is a superb flyer. Sleeping, eating, bathing and even mating on the wing, swifts rarely touch the ground. They are also the fastest birds in level flight, with an impressive top speed of 69mph.

Swifts have a white throat and are a simple sooty brown color, but when they are flying against the sky, they appear black. They have a short, forked tail and long, scythe-like wings. Swifts breed all over the UK during the summer, but they are most common in the south and east. Swifts migrate 3,400 miles twice a year to spend the winter in Africa, pausing along the way in countries like Portugal and France to recharge.

Swifts only have one thought on their minds after a long voyage home from their summer in Africa: mating. Swifts stay together for life and build a little nest at the same location every year before laying and incubating their eggs. They enjoy squeezing through narrow spaces to nest inside roofs of homes and churches. Swift nest places, however, are rapidly vanishing as more historic structures are repaired and soffit gaps are filled.

About Swift

Size Around 16-17cm
Weight Around 40g
Breeding season May-July
Lifespan Up to 20 years
Habitat Anywhere with flying insects
Food preferences Any kind of flying insect
Threats Loss of nesting places and food sources

Interesting facts about Swift

Interesting facts about Swift
  • Swifts spend just three months of the year in Britain, arriving in early May and leaving in early August. This is a shorter period than any of our breeding birds other than the cuckoo.
  • They spend their winters well south of the Sahara: British-ringed birds have been recovered in the Congo Basin, Malawi, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa.
  • They are long-lived birds, reflected in the fact that they lay just two or three eggs in a clutch, and only attempt to rear a single brood a year.
  • Swifts are monogamous, and the same pairs will breed together in successive years.
  • Because they are totally dependent on airborne prey they are very susceptible to bad weather during the breeding season, when a lack of food often results in chicks starving to death.
  • Young swifts can survive without food for up to 48 hours, lapsing into a semi-torpid state.
  • The adult swifts migrate south within days of the chicks leaving the nest.
  • They like to feed in the unstable air to the rear of a weather depression, where there is often a great abundance of insect life.
  • Swifts have tiny feet and almost no legs, adaptations to their aerial lifestyle.
  • The swifts’ closest genetic relations are the hummingbirds; they are not related to swallows or martins.
  • Swifts feed at a higher elevation than both swallows and martins.
  • A young swift, ringed in Oxford on 31 July, was killed in Madrid on 3 August, having covered 1,300km in three days.