Species Of The Week Number 38: Swift

Swifts are incredible birds. I love Swifts. Here are some amazing Swift facts:

  • Swifts could very nearly could keep up with you on the M62, as their top straight-line speed is 69mph.
  • Swifts migrate to Africa and back each year, a distance of some 6,800 miles - which they do non-stop.
  • Newly fledged Swifts don't land at all for 2-3 years. They then only land to breed,. (They bathe by flying slowly through rain).
  • The hardened spit of a different cave-dwelling Swift species is the basic ingredient of birds-nest soup.
  • The oldest known Swift lived to be 16 years old. It had probably flown over 4 million miles.

The UK's swift population is suffering a worrying decline, with a fall of more than 60% between 1995 and 2020. One of the reasons for this is loss of spaces to nest in modern or refurbished older houses. There is a campaign to get house builders to include Swift nest sites in new housing.

I'm pretty sure that there aren't any colonies of Swifts living within the footprint Meanwood Valley Bioblitz area - which roughly stretches from Buslingthorpe Lane to Stonegate Road - but I would be delighted to hear otherwise.

However if you keep your eyes up you can certainly see these acrobats of the sky above Meanwood. They may well come from the colony in Gledhow, which is also the base for Leeds Swifts - an organisation with fantastic ambition to "make Leeds the Swift capital of the UK". You can keep up-to-date with all Swift related news on their Facebook page.

You can tell Swifts apart from superficially similar Swallows and House Martins by their scythe-like swept back wings and screaming calls which are an iconic sound of late summer. Although similar, Swifts aren't actually related to them and in fact are more closer related to to Hummingbirds. Who'd have thought?

Publicado el 14 de junio de 2023 por clunym clunym


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