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Last updated on April 24, 2014 at 6:16 EDT

Little Swift

The Little Swift (Apus affinis), also known as House Swift, is a small bird similar in appearance to a barn swallow or house martin. It is, however, unrelated to these passerine species, as swift’s are in the separate order Apodiformes. The resemblance between the two orders are due to close life styles brought on through evolution. They are found from Africa eastwards through southern tropical Asia to western Indonesia. They are cliff dwellers but also nest around human habitation. Most are year-round residents, but some migrate further south in winter.

These birds have very short legs which they use only for clinging to vertical surfaces. Most of their lives are spent in the air, living on the insects they catch in their beaks. They are noticeably small with a wingspan of 12.5 inches. They are black except for a white rump, the white extending on to the flanks. They have a short square tail. The flight is fluttering like a house martin. The call is high twittering.

Little swifts build their nests in holes in buildings or sometimes on cliffs, laying 1-4 eggs. A swift will return to the same site year after year, rebuilding its nest when necessary. They drink on the wing and are notoriously slow morning risers.

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Little Swift