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Swift

Description


The swift is a medium-sized aerial bird, which is a superb flier. It even sleeps on the wing - By sleeping with half of its brain at a time, (the same technique as a Dolphin!) the Swift lives on the wing, coming down only for a short period each year to breed.

   
It is plain sooty brown, and has a characteristic shape, with a short forked tail and very long swept-back wings that resemble a crescent or a boomerang. They are superficially similar to swallows but are actually not closely related. They feed on a wide variety of flying insects and spiders caught in flight.

The Swift is a summer visitor, arriving in late April, breeding across the UK, but most numerously in the south and east. It winters in Africa. See our Swift nesting box.

Quick Facts


Fledging
37-56 days

Clutch Size
2-3 eggs

Egg Weight
3.5 g

Egg Size
25x16 mm

First Record
1544

Habitat
Open country & towns

Weight
44 g

Wingspan
45 cm

Length
16 cm

Status in UK
Migrant Breeder, Passage Visitor

Conservation Status UK
Green

Number in Britain
165,000

Incubation
19-25 days

Number of broods
1

Age at First Breeding
4 years

Typical Lifespan
9 years

Maximum Recorded Age
17 years, 11 months

  • The only time Swifts are thought to land is to rear there young and such is their aerial lifestyle they even roost and mate on the wing.
  • Within days of leaving the nest the adult Swifts migrate south.
  • They have adapted to their aerial lifestyle, with almost no legs and tiny feet.
  • It is very difficult to tell the sexes apart, even when holding the bird.
  • In times gone by Swifts nested in holes high up in trees. Today most swifts nest under the eaves of buildings.
  • A young swift was reported to have covered 1,300km in three days.
  • Like the Cuckoo, the Swift spends only three months of the year in Britain. They arrive early May and depart early August.

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