Swift

Scientific name: Apus apus

Did you know: Swifts are remarkable for their aerial prowess, capable of reaching speeds of up to 69 miles per hour in level flight, making them one of the fastest birds in the air.

What Do Swifts Look Like? (how to identify them)

Swifts are medium-sized birds exhibiting a distinctive sooty brown colouration, which appears almost black against the sky. 

Their remarkable silhouette in flight is characterised by curved wings and a split tail. Notably, Swifts exhibit a unique white patch on their throat, offering a contrast to their otherwise dark plumage. 

In the UK, Swifts are a common sight during summer, particularly in southern and eastern regions.

Differences Between Male and Female Swifts

Male and female Swifts are visually similar, making it challenging to distinguish between them based purely on appearance. Both sexes share the same colouration and size, demonstrating nature’s emphasis on functional efficiency in these high-flying birds.

What Do Swifts Eat?

Swifts are aerial hunters, preying primarily on flying insects and airborne spiders. Their diet includes dragonflies, flies, ants, and aphids, among others. They are adept at capturing these insects mid-flight, thanks to their exceptional speed and agility.

Where Do Swifts Live? (inc. migration info)

Swifts are renowned for their long-distance migrations, travelling over 3,400 miles between their breeding grounds in the UK and wintering habitats in Africa. They are known to make stopovers in countries like Portugal and France. 

In the UK, Swifts commonly nest in urban and suburban areas, as well as in wetlands and grasslands. Their nesting sites are often found in old buildings and churches, where they utilise small gaps to build their nests.

Bird Calls & Songs (the unique voices of Swifts)

Swifts communicate through high-pitched calls, often heard as they fly in groups. These calls, a series of screams and chirps, play a crucial role in social interactions among these fast-flying birds.

Fun Swift Facts (kid friendly)

  • They spend almost their entire lives in the air, even sleeping and mating while flying!
  • Swifts migrate an impressive distance of 3,400 miles between the UK and Africa.
  • They are known for their unique white throat patch amidst their otherwise dark plumage.
  • Swifts use their saliva to bind materials together when building their nests.
  • These birds are summer visitors to the UK, arriving around April and departing in August or September.
  • The wingspan of a Swift ranges between 42-48cm.
  • Swifts have a special pouch in their throat to collect insects, which they then feed to their chicks.
  • Interestingly, Swifts have very small, weak legs, as they rarely land.
  • They are an important part of urban biodiversity, often seen zipping through the skies of towns and cities.

Swift Images

image coming soon Submit Image
Male
image coming soon Submit Image
Female
image coming soon Submit Image
Hatchling
image coming soon Submit Image
Nestling
image coming soon Submit Image
Chick
image coming soon Submit Image
Fledgling
image coming soon Submit Image
Juvenile

Facts About The Swift

Diet: Flying insects and airborne spiders.
Bird Family: Swifts
Length: 16-17cm
Wingspan: 42-48cm
Weight: 36-50g
Scientific Name: Apus apus

The Swift Can Be Seen In The UK During The Following Months

  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September