Some birds not only fly as a method of transportation or migration, they also do everyday things like eating, sleeping and even mating while in the air. The common swift is a species of bird that does all three while also being one of the fastest flying birds found in Europe. Other birds like the albatross sleep while flying and the artic terns eat during flight, but the common swift is one of the most amazing.
Appearance and Habitat
The medium-sized common swift has a dark brown body with white chin and a dark colored forked tail. Sexes look similar. Juvenile swifts have a pale throat and white-edged feathers on its back. Swifts live in the air or in nesting-holes. The birds are found in Europe and Asia and over lakes and wetlands. The diet consists of insects caught in flight.
The common swift is one the fastest flying birds with speeds up to 136 mph in dives. Only the alpine swift and the hobby are faster. The alpine swift can dive at 155 mph and the hobby can dive at 149 mph. The hobby is the common swift's only natural predator in the air because it is the only bird that can fly faster than and out-maneuver a free-flying swift.
Long Flight Periods
Common swifts can fly for very long periods without landing. This is possible because it can do many things while flying, including eating, drinking, sleeping and even mating in the air. Common swifts only land for the purpose of breeding. Most start breeding in their third or fourth year, so they are able to stay permanently in the air for two to three years, except when checking for possible nesting-holes; Common swifts cling onto a wall momentarily to look inside the holes.
Common swifts have feet different from other birds. Their tiny, slightly curved feet are ideal for clinging to rock faces and walls. However, they are useless for walking of hopping on the ground and the swift's tiny feet make it impossible to perch on branches like other birds. Baby swifts still in the nest can drop their body temperature in order to survive during periods when the weather prevents parents from collecting food.
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