Swift bird, perhaps, is known to all. It can be seen both in the city and beyond. And this is not surprising, because swifts are one of the most common representatives of birds on the planet. They live on all continents, with the exception of Antarctica and several islands.
In the summer, these birds fly in the air with loud screaming screams. People are used to them and no longer pay attention to them, but they don’t know that they see truly unusual birds.
Swift Bird: Description
We give the main characteristics of the appearance. The body of the swifts in length reaches 10-24 centimeters, the weight is from 50 to 140 grams. The head is large, the eyes are dark, the beak is short and sharp. The wings are curved and long, the tail is forked or straight. The legs are small and weak. The fingers are forward, the nails are sharp.
Mostly the birds have a dark color, black and gray colors predominate, however, belly swifts are also found. White color is present, as a rule, on the undertail, throat, stomach and forehead. Females and males in appearance do not have differences.
In summer, flocks of dark birds flying in the sky with a squeal can be observed everywhere, even in big cities. These are the black swifts that are most common in cities. At the same time, in the eastern regions of our country and in some other states, the bulk of the "urban" are belted swifts. In general, white and black birds are similar both in appearance and in behavior.
Swift bird belongs to the Swift-like order. In general, in nature, there are about eighty species of representatives of this order. There are migratory species and sedentary individuals. Swifts, as a rule, live in packs, and prefer to nest in colonies, which in some cases reach several thousand pairs. These birds are active from early morning until evening.
What do swifts eat?
The birds in question are very dependent on ambient temperature and weather conditions, which is their main distinguishing characteristic. If the Swift bird is starving, its body temperature may drop to twenty degrees. That is why these birds have the ability to fall into a kind of numbness.
Swifts of insects are eaten, which are caught in the air with their beak, like a butterfly net. If food cannot be obtained, the birds plunge into a kind of hibernation and can spend several days in this state until the weather conditions improve. This ability is not only adults, but also chicks of this species. In hibernation, they can last about nine days, while parents fly away for food several kilometers away.
Long-haul flights in order to get food are called weather migration. Overwinter bird swifts flies, usually in August. However, again, in this case it all depends on the weather.
These birds nest in trees, in hollows, in crevices of rocks, burrows and caves. It all depends on the habitat. Feathered live in forests, cities, mountains and deserts. Couples create for life.
The swift nest is built of plant fibers, twigs and feathers that birds pick up on the fly. Each year, birds return to their former nests. Housing construction lasts about a week.
The eggs hatch by females for 16-22 days, at which time the male flies away in search of food. In the masonry there are usually white eggs, there can be four or only one.
Chicks do not leave the nest of swifts for 33-39 days, depending on weather conditions. Parents feed them several times a day with compressed lumps of saliva and insects. Then the chicks fly away, because they are completely ready to live an independent life.
- Swifts cannot swim and walk, but can only sit on tree branches and fly. Therefore, birds drink, eat and even bathe on the fly.
- When bad weather conditions are observed, and the swifts understand that they will not be able to feed the chicks, they throw eggs from the nest.
- These are the fastest birds, the flight speed of which can reach 170 kilometers per hour.
- Some species are able to sleep on the fly, while the time of such rest can reach several hours.
- In the wild, these birds live ten to twenty years.
Difference from swallows
Swifts and swallows are very similar in color and size, so they are often confused. However, upon closer inspection, it becomes clear that these are completely different birds. They even belong to different units.
The swifts and swallows are quite comparable in size: the same wingspan, the same body length, but the weight of the young swift is two times the weight of the swallow. They differ in color. Despite the fact that the plumage of both of them is dark, the swifts have a greenish tint, there is a small white spot on the chin and throat. A distinctive feature of the swift is also a sharp beak, with which it seems to cut the sky (hence the name).
Swallows have normal bird feet with three fingers pointing forward and one back. Due to this structure of the paws, the birds easily rest on the perch and move on the ground.
Swifts have unique paws. All four fingers are directed forward, so it is very difficult for the birds to maintain balance. This feature determined the manner of sleeping the swifts: they hang upside down on a bitch, because they can’t stand. In addition, the forward-facing fingers complicate the take-off from the support, but as soon as the birds rise to the sky, they already forget how stupid they look on the ground. In flight, swifts reach speeds of up to 170 km / h, while swallows - only up to 60 km / h.
Another difference is that after wintering the swifts arrive last, while the swallows are the harbingers of spring.
Features and habitat of the swift
You can see this wonderful bird in any corner of our planet. You will not meet her only in too cold climatic latitudes. They can settle both in forest zones and in treeless territories.
They give their preference to large cities and coastal cliffs, it is there that it is convenient for them to equip their nests. It feels like these birds never get tired. They spend almost all of their time in flight, and it takes them only a few hours at night to sleep. Thanks to the perfect aircraft, they can cover distances of hundreds of kilometers.
The nature and lifestyle of the swifts
Among these species of birds there are both sedentary and migratory. Prefer to live in packs. Entire colonies can be seen in cities or in the mountains, numbering several thousand pairs of swifts. Their activity does not fall from morning to evening. Their energy supply is not running out. They have a very strong metabolism and therefore an excellent appetite. Birds have excellent vision and hearing.
Swifts birds develop flight speeds of up to 160 km / h
An interesting fact is that swifts can sleep in flight and not for a couple of minutes, but for several hours, only sometimes flapping their wings. It should not be noted that this is not a completely peaceful bird, although they live in large families.
They are big bullies and brawlers, they start frequent quarrels not only with their brothers, but also with other species of birds. It’s hard to call them smart or cunning. Their temper is dominated by excessive temper, because of which sometimes they can even forget about their safety.
Swifts are very responsive to temperature changes. If, after heat, it can suddenly become colder, their thermoregulation does not cope with this difficult task and the swift hibernates. Bird nests are not built neatly, compared to other birds.
In the photo, the nest of swifts
It is enough for them to demolish building material in one pile and fasten it with their quickly solidifying saliva. Swifts have few enemies, due to their fast flight speed. Only falcons can threaten them, catching swifts right on the fly.
Little chicks of swifts may not appear from the nest for a long time, this can last up to two months. All this time, caring parents take care of the nutrition of their children, bringing the kids food in their beaks.
The main food for swifts are insects that fly in the air. It follows from this that nutrition and the life of swifts in general is completely dependent on weather conditions. If, due to the onset of cold weather, insects disappear, the swifts also have to change their place of residence.
From hunger, the temperature of these birds drops significantly, this can end with the so-called "trance sleep". Thanks to this pattern, birds can experience hunger for one to ten days. This helps the little chicks wait for their parents, who have flown far in search of food.
Black swift This is one of the species of birds, which is slightly different in its size and color of plumage. In early May, he flies from warm places to places to which he is accustomed and with loud cries notifies us that spring has finally fully entered into its own rights.
Black Swift Bird
Most often, black swifts winter in Africa and India. Initially, they liked living on the rocks the most, but gradually they fell in love with city life and meeting them in the city is now not uncommon.
Swift is a migratory bird or not? Often people ask this question. The answer is yes. They are heat-loving birds. Only those edges where the temperature allows them to exist freely and without problems all year round do not leave.
It is strictly forbidden to feed swifts:
- maggots for fishing,
- Feline soft and hard foods, and indeed none, dog including,
- do not give sausages, sausages and similar products,
- banned industrial feed for birds,
- you can not give carrots,
- chicken is not allowed from the store either,
- an insect-eating mash of insect-eating birds is not allowed,
- banned all types of eggs, boiled or raw, no matter which birds,
- seeds from the store, neither raw nor fried,
- You can’t cottage cheese, sour cream and other dairy products from the store,
- if in your room there is an adhesive tape with flies, they are also forbidden to give swifts,
- generally forget about feeding the food that you and your pets eat.
Need to feed:
Since the main diet of swifts is insects, you need to feed them only with them, in addition, they must be caught directly in nature, and not grown anywhere in the aquarium for business.
- pupae (eggs) of forest red ants (Formica rufa). Store also in the freezer, rinse on a sieve and pat with a cloth before feeding, a video on how to cut them below,
- crickets that need to be stored in the freezer should be thawed and thawed before feeding, after wetting them with a napkin to remove excess water. Do not feed the rotten, you can determine them by the dark color and smell of rotten meat. In female crickets, it is necessary to remove eggs from the abdomen, since they are not digested in swifts,
- molted larvae of flour meal, only white, soft without chitinous cover,
- Turkmen cockroaches, feeding instructions below,
If you cooked a suitable meal, but it doesn’t open its mouth, below is a video on how to do it:
Also, swifts need vitamins, so we recommend giving thiamine (B1) 1-2 drops in a volume of 0.04 ml every 5-7 days. Otherwise, the bird may have cramps from a vitamin deficiency.
Description, appearance, character and coloring
Externally, the swift is a small bird with a dense elongated body up to 20 cm, a flattened head and a short neck. The beak looks like a small flattened triangle. The wings of the bird resemble a sword in shape, narrow in width and slightly curved. The wing length reaches 17 cm and a wingspan of 40 cm. Adult weight up to 200g. The activity of the individual is high throughout the day, and the life expectancy reaches 5-6 years.
The dark brown plumage with a greenish tint makes the bird very recognizable. A white collar on the chin adorns the body. Eyes, beak and legs also play in tone with the color of the body. Only the legs are large and short, light brown in color, and the eyes and beak are dark.
Why is a bird constantly in flight
Swifts fly most of their lives, since on the ground they can become a predator at any time. But this is not the only reason why they spend all their time in the sky.
The characteristic uniqueness of the bird is that it practically does not know how to walk. This is due to the structure of the legs. They have only 4 fingers looking to the side. Therefore, on earth it is very difficult for her to maintain her balance. Also, she cannot bounce and move on her paws.
A swift can stay in the sky for 3-4 years: there it eats, sleeps and mates. By nature, birds are very nimble, since they develop a speed of up to 120 km / h in flight, which is twice the speed of a swallow. They even make nests at great heights: in hollows of trees or rocky cliffs.
How swifts sleep
In addition to the fact that the bird sleeps in flight, she manages to plan in a dream in one place. Ornithologists at a university in Sweden found out why this is happening. As a result of radar and observations revealed the following patterns:
- the Swift, before going to bed, gains a great height of about 3 thousand meters,
- changes its direction across to the wind, turning every 50-60 seconds.
Thanks to this method, the bird simply flies along a certain path in one place. If the wind is moderate or weak, then the trajectory resembles a circle, if strong, then a rhombus or square.
Enemies and other troubles
Due to its ability to fly, the Swift has no permanent enemies, except for one pest. A cavity tick can penetrate into the body of both an adult and a young individual, and cause serious diseases: from skin dermatitis to paralysis of the limbs.
Birds living in the city often fall prey to cats. In the wild, occasionally there have been cases when swifts collided with birds of prey, in the fight with which they died. Situations were also recorded when entire colonies died from raids on high-voltage transmission lines.
To this day, birds do not trust people. Most likely this is due to the fact that at the end of the 19th century we hunted chicks, considering their meat to be delicious.
Avian diet and temperature differences
The bird eats exclusively insects. The beak and jaw resemble a butterfly net with which they gain little bugs. At one time, a large number of insects are placed in the mouth, so a black (ordinary) swift is considered an assistant in pest control.
Birds can leave their nest if there are fewer insects around. Basically, this situation occurs when showers begin, and small beetles hide in the ground and tree bark. A popular sign is connected with this fact: if the swifts fly high - the weather will be good, if low - wait for the rain. The explanation is simple - increased humidity in the air causes insects to descend closer to the ground. Accordingly, the birds are forced to decline after them.
Swifts react very sharply to summer temperature drops. Due to the cooling, the body temperature decreases, and the bird falls into a stupor. Most often this happens with chicks, as they physically cannot leave the place of bad weather. In this state, they are able to persistently wait out the bad conditions for 9-12 days without any serious consequences.
Maturity and reproduction
After the first year of life, swifts begin puberty. But adults become parents only in the third year. After that, they actively breed for two years.
The male finds a mate in the air and stays with her for life. Mating takes place in the sky, and after that nesting begins. The height of the place where the nest will be located should not be less than three meters.Therefore, a young couple chooses a steep rock or a tall tree, mainly near the river. City swifts nest under balconies or roofs of tall buildings.
The female lays 2-3 eggs. Chicks hatch after 16-22 days of hatching, depending on weather conditions. They are naked and blind. The interval between babies can reach 24 hours, while the first-born will be the most enduring. Within two weeks, the chicks open their eyes and become covered with fluff.
Both mom and dad are engaged in feeding eternally hungry cubs. For forty days, they will daily bring them thousands of insects mixed with their own saliva. After final maturation, the kids leave the nests and begin their own adult journey in the sky.
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Similarity to swallows
Swifts and swallows very similar to each other visuallyas well as habits and behavior. In addition, both are migratory birds. All this led to the fact that the Swedish zoologist Karl Linney, studying swifts, first wrote them down as relatives to the swallows.
Nevertheless, according to modern classification, they belong to different families, and the closest relative of the swift is a hummingbird. What distinguishes swifts from swallows is that their wings are narrower, and their flight speed is higher.
Variety of species
Currently, 113 species of the swine family have been isolated. On the Eurasian and African continents the most widespread black swift. It lives mainly in cities.
In addition to him, in Russia you can meet white-bellied and spiny tail swifts. The first is known for its ability to be in the air for more than 6 months without landing. The second species differs from the rest in its silence - most swifts shout very loudly - and in that they often choose mountainous areas for nesting.
To build their nests, these birds use tree bark, lichens and mosses, branches, grass and feathers. They establish a nest no lower than three meters high, choosing rocks or tall trees for this. Birds living in the city build their homes under balconies or roofs of buildings.
There are among the swifts and originals. For instance, african palm swift builds a very unusual nest. It is a small pillow of fluff and feathers attached to the inside of a palm leaf. To keep the eggs in such a nest, the adult individual glues them, and she clings tightly to the pillow with her claws.
African palm swift
Cayenne Swift, who lives in America, makes a long tube out of fluff, attaches it to a branch and sticks to it a peculiar pocket of the same material - this is a nest.
Another type of haircuts - salangans - make their nests out of saliva. These are the same "swallow's nests" from which soups are made in eastern countries.
Crested swifts are known for making the smallest nests in the world in relation to the size of birds. Only one egg can fit in them, and the adult does not fit there, so the female sits next to the nest and, in the process of brooding, slightly covers the egg with the feathers of the abdomen.
Swifts are best suited for flying. Thus, the prickly-tailed swift is capable of developing in flight speed up to 170 km / h. For comparison, the swallow does not fly faster 60 km / h.
But this also has a flip side: because of the special structure of the fingers, the swifts can neither walk on the ground nor swim. Therefore, they do everything on the fly: they eat, get materials for building a nest, bathe, mate and even sleep.
If the bird nevertheless ended up on the ground, this could be dangerous for it, since far from all species can fly again without additional help - most need a springboard or dais to push off. Only a black swift can bounce and take off from the ground.
At one time, the female swift lays up to 3 eggs. Both male and female incubate them for 14 days. Chicks are born naked and blind. And they are very voracious: they need about 400 insects per day.
2 months after birth, the young is ready to leave the nest, independently obtain its own food and fly.
You can meet these birds on any continent except Antarctica. In many ways, the expansion of their habitat was facilitated by seasonal migration with flights over great distances. Such migrations often led to the development by birds of new regions where they did not previously inhabit, and the emergence of populations in the area.
They like to nest both in cities and towns, and in the wild: in the mountains, forests and deserts. Their greatest concentration is near water bodies, since many insects - their main food - live on the water.
Despite the fact that swifts are warm-blooded animals, the ambient temperature affects their body temperature. In them, this effect is more pronounced than in any other bird.
The weather affects how much the newborn chick will have to sit in the nest and whether it will hatch at all. In cold and rainy weather, the chicks become numb, their body temperature decreases by half compared with the norm - up to 20 ° C. However, they can do without food for up to two weeks. This allows adult individuals to go prey to places remote from the nest, because during the rain their food - insects flying in the air - disappears. Sometimes it can be multi-kilometer flights.
Swift behavior can serve peculiar weather forecast: if they fly high - the weather will be clear, if low - rainy. This is due to the fact that due to increased humidity, insects descend closer to the ground, and swifts follow them.
Only one of the species of these birds is considered endangered - Guam salanganabut many others are also protected by the national laws of several countries.
In some African countries, people catch black swifts and even eat them. But such cases are not widespread, and on a global scale, people do not prey on these birds. However, often human activities indirectly affect the death of swifts. For example, they may accidentally collide with a flying airplane, fly into wires, get stuck in a chimney, or drink chlorinated water from a pool. Also, deforestation in some areas may affect their population decline.
Nutrition and behavior
Swift bird feeds on the fly . Opening his mouth, he goes to the accumulation of insects and stuffs his beak. With the help of the secret of the sublingual glands, it glues the prey into a lump. Then swallows it or carries it to the chicks. In search of food, the swift can fly tens of kilometers. In inclement weather, forced to remain hungry. The basis of the diet is:
Drink swifts also on the fly . To do this, they are reduced to the surface of the reservoir and scoop up the liquid with its open beak.
The birds are most active during the day, especially during the breeding season. Black swifts live in noisy colonies and form pairs for many years.
In nature, they prefer to settle in the mountains. It is much easier for them to rise into the air, rushing from a cliff down. However, perfectly adapted to the neighborhood with the dwelling of a person. Instead of rocks, choose skyscrapers and towers. To breed offspring, a nest is built. In search of a convenient place, they show aggression against competitors: sparrows, starlings and survive them from the territory. Collisions between relatives for the female are also possible.
Life expectancy swift is an average of 10 years. However, in some cases, it can reach 15–20 years.
Nest construction and breeding
Swifts are migratory birds. They are able to travel vast distances non-stop. Winter is brought in southern Africa. In spring and summer they return to Europe and Asia.
The construction process takes about a week. Most often, the swift nest is located in the hollows of trees, between the rocks or on the upper floors of buildings, if we are talking about urban birds.
Female lays 2-3 eggs that parents sit in turn. Chicks are born blind, naked and weigh only a few grams, gray fluff gradually appears. In order to feed offspring, mother and father go hunting and may be absent for several weeks. Babies in the nest to survive have to fall into a stupor.
All 3 chicks rarely survive. In particularly unfavorable years, birds can even abandon a nest with offspring.
Young individuals become independent after 1.5 months . From that moment, parents lose interest in them. The new generation, together with the colony, flies to Africa in the fall. But it comes back only a few years after reaching puberty.
Black swift flight
Swift flying is not just a way of moving. In the air, a bird obtains food, drinks, collects material for a nest, and, more surprisingly, sleeps and starts offspring. But on earth it is becoming too vulnerable.
Swift flight speed easily steps over the mark of 100 kilometers per hour. Some sources mention the figure of 250 kilometers per hour. At the same time, birds literally rush in the air and write out sharp turns not only individually, but also in small groups, showing amazing synchronism. Ornithologists believe that they use a scream to coordinate actions.
It is not only speed that is amazing. Black Swift is able to rise into the air to a height of 2-3 kilometers. Often planes crash into a bird.
Another cause of the death of these birds become wires . The bird does not notice them during the flight. Given speed, a collision becomes fatal.
Despite these sad facts, an inconspicuous bird is the embodiment of speed. The flight of the swift fascinates with its swiftness and maneuverability. It is capable of literally gliding in space both horizontally and vertically, trapping air currents. No wonder the name of this bird was chosen for the name of the aerobatics aerobatics group of the Russian Air Force.