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Interesting facts about the common swift

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We found 18 interesting facts about the common swift

Apus Apus

The common swift is a medium-sized migratory bird that spends most of its life in the air. Although it is not a species closely related to swallows, it shares similar anatomical features and behavior.


The common swift is a member of the swift family (Apodidae).

The swiftlet family includes about 100 species.

During the breeding season it remains in the northern hemisphere of Eurasia and winters in southern Africa.

Found from the British Isles throughout Europe, including Scandinavia, North Africa and Central Asia. Winters on the African continent from the equatorial zone to the southern coast.

This is a medium sized bird.

Body length is from 16 to 18 cm, wingspan is from 40 to 44 cm. Body weight ranges from 31 to 52 g.

Swifts are black-brown, and only on their chin can you find a small pale gray spot.

Their legs are quite short, and they use them mainly for attaching to vertical walls. Their tail is forked, like swallows, and their wings are crescent-shaped during flight.

Apart from the nesting period, swifts spend the rest of their lives in the air. No other bird species can boast a better result.

They feed on insects caught in flight, drink, copulate and sleep in flight. Some individuals can stay in the air for up to 10 months and during this time they never land.

Their flight speed can reach 111 km/h.

Swifts can travel over a million kilometers in their lifetime. Outside the nesting period, these birds spend their entire lives in flight.

Their singing is not subtle and refined. There are two types of screams with different tones.

A higher tone is typical for women. Sometimes they form calling groups of many birds, during which the calls of flying birds coincide with the calls of nesting individuals. According to research, calling within a flying flock serves to exchange information between individuals and occurs in the evening and morning.


The common swift is an insectivorous bird.

More than half of its diet consists of hymenoptera, about 25% - small beetles, then butterflies and other smaller insects.

While feeding, it can travel up to 100 km from its nest.

Swifts have been known to leave their nests in the west of Scotland to seek nutritious food in the region of Northern Ireland, where insects are more well-fed and nutritionally valuable.

They feed in flight, catching flying insects with their wide open beak.

This is a common trait between swifts and swallows, although they evolved independently of each other through convergent evolution.

The breeding season of swifts begins in March and lasts until June.

They build nests in tree hollows, wall crevices, secluded corners of buildings and rock crevices. In human buildings, people like to choose towers, attics and lofts. Swifts used to breed in nature, but with the development of civilization they moved closer to human buildings.

They usually mate for years.

After returning from wintering, they often return to the previous nest and find a mate. Together they begin to restore the damaged nursery, which they left abandoned for approximately 8,5 months.

The female lays 2–3 eggs at intervals of two days.

They are light gray in color and weigh about 3,5 g. Both parents incubate for about 20 days.

The young hatch naked and blind. Only after a while do they begin to become covered with fluff.

They open their eyes at about 2 weeks of age and can leave the nest after 42–56 days. The more food, the faster the chicks become independent.

After the breeding season, they migrate to their wintering grounds.

The first to leave are pairs that fail to reproduce, as well as chicks and one-year-old birds that have not reached sexual maturity. Only after this the breeding males leave the nest, and at the very end of the nest the breeding females also leave.

The signal for the start of migration is a reduction in daylight hours.

Departure time occurs when the amount of daylight falls below 17 hours.

Some young breeding pairs may periodically stop feeding.

They then enter a state of lethargy, reducing their body temperature and metabolism.

This is not an endangered species.

The European population of the common swift has been measured to range from 19 to 32 million breeding pairs.
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