Accomplishments and Records

Land? Who Needs Land?

Common Swift

Common Swift

The swift spends almost all of its life in the air, touching down only to reproduce. They will cling to a wall or rock-face to check a potential nest hole, and they will spend the night in such a hole to establish it as their nest site. When incubating their eggs and feeding their young they stay in the nest hole and bring food there for the chicks, but otherwise, all their life is spent on the wing.

Swifts stay aloft night and day, Summer and Winter alike. A Swift can spend its first two or three years on the wing before breeding, and making its first ever landing.

Such an ability is unique. No other bird can even approach it. Only Frigatebirds are known to be capable of spending months in flight over the seas, taking their food whilst on the wing.

The Swift was created to be such a perfect airborne creature, that its feet and legs have retained few of the abilities of those of other birds. The minute, slightly curved feet are ideal for clinging to walls and rock-faces, but useless for holding on to a perch, or for walking or even hopping along the ground.

Swifts look fast, and they are. Their aerobatic territorial and social display flight can take them to a speed of 220 km (137 miles) per hour, a record for birds of this size. Only the Alpine Swift  and the Peregrine Falcon can match this, and they are considerably bigger, heavier birds with substantial body-mass.


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