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Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 1:21 EDT

Common Swift

The Common Swift (Apus apus), is a bird that is similar to the barn swallow or house martin. They are commonly found in Great Britain and northern Europe. They are migratoria and winter further south in southern Africa.

The Common Swift is 6.25 to 6.75 inches long with a wingspan averaging 15.5 inches. It is entirely black/brown except for a small white or pale gray patch on the chin. The tail is short and forked. The wings are long and swept back and resemble a boomerang or crescent moon. The call is a loud scream of two different tone pitches. The female gives the higher pitch, and male the lower. They often form “˜screaming parties’ during summer evenings and 10 – 15 birds fly in circles calling out to one another.

Though mainly forest dwellers, the Common Swift has also adapted to colonize in human habitation and will build nests in all suitable hollows in buildings, under window sills, and in corner rafters of wooden buildings. It also builds nests in chimneys, and smokestacks. Swifts return to the same nesting site for several years, even rebuilding in the same location if necessary.

Swifts spend most of their lives in the air, living on the insects they catch in their beaks. They drink, feed, and often mate and sleep on the wing. Young swifts in the nest can drop their body temperature and become torpid if bad weather prevents their parents from catching insects nearby.

Common Swift