Swifts in Training

Discussion in 'Nature & Wildlife' started by Jim, Aug 24, 2013.

  1. Jim

    Jim Ringleader

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    Our Swifts always arrive and leave late. This year we have around 20 recently hatched birds from I think about half a dozen pairs. It seems the older birds are preparing the young ones for their long flight to Africa, South of the Sahara in about two weeks time.

    The training is relentless, the birds are chased around and around our very large yard, they stop in just two places, back in their nest areas or on a 50m telephone line strung across the yard. The young only stop for a few seconds literally fighting for breath before an adult flies down the line and shoos them of for another 100 laps, soon their flying becomes very jerky and they stop again. A minutes rest and off they are chased. The flights are so fast, zooming in and out of pillars, up and down walls, not are they called Swifts for nothing. A fascinating way to spend a half an hour
     
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  2. laneside

    laneside Funster

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    An interesting fact about swifts, once they reach adulthood they never land or stop flying until they choose to nest again. Apparently they fly up high and cap nap on the downward journey, only to do the same again.

    Sensible birds though setting off for warmer climes-------exactly what we are doing next week.

    Will someone tell Kesbruce to learn from them as he is heading in the wrong direction
     
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  3. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

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    swifts do land....but never intentionally on a flat surface....ie, the ground.

    their wing aerodynamics arent cabable of producing enough lift to take off so they, in effect, throw themselves into flight...basically they free-fall first to gain flight speed.

    im not saying they dont sleep 'on the wing', just that they do land.

    an interesting fact...the fastest recorded and recognised level flight speed...69.3mph.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2013
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  4. SandJ

    SandJ Read Only Funster

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    I was talking about swallows and swifts and received this info related to swifts:

    "A swift adapts the shape of its wings to the immediate task at hand: folding them back to chase insects, or stretching them out to sleep in flight...
    Swifts spend almost their entire life in the air. During flight, they continually change the shape of their wings from spread wide to swept back. When they fly slowly and straight on, extended wings carry swifts 1.5 times farther and keep them airborne twice as long. To fly fast, swifts need to sweep back their wings to gain a similar advantage...
    Swifts do not land to roost, but spend the night at 1.5 km above the ground...To measure their flight speed, Swedish scientists used radar. They found that swifts let the air blow past their wings at 8 to 10 m/s (29-36 km/h). At these air speeds, swift wings deliver maximum flight efficiency. For the swift that means more gliding and less flapping to maintain altitude...
    The swifts for this study had been brought in dead or dying to seven Dutch bird sanctuaries. Swifts, when forced to land on the ground, cannot take off by themselves and will starve unless a kind and timely passer-by throws them in the air. Swifts are the most aerial of birds. They migrate annually from South Africa to Europe. Over their lifetime, swifts cover 4.5 million kilometres, a distance equal to six round trips to the moon or 100 times around the Earth. At day, swifts hunt insects; at night they 'roost' in flight. Swifts even mate in the air and land only lay their eggs, in nests tucked away into crevices of walls and cliffs. :thumb:Swifts are not related to swallows. :thumb:They are family of another well-known aerial acrobat, the hummingbird.
     
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  5. MikeD

    MikeD Funster

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    When we first moved into our home some 35 years ago we used to have lots of swifts and swallows every summer.

    Only about 10 in total this year :Sad::Sad:
     
  6. Jim

    Jim Ringleader

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    When they arrive here, they are so excited and tired and fly around singing for a bit, feeding probably, then they rest for about an hour on the telephone wire, chirping. probably swapping stories about the long trip. :BigGrin: Thereafter, you only see them on the wire for a few seconds or so.
     
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  7. campa cola

    campa cola Funster

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    Unfortunately one of my pairs of house martins built a nest over the front door whilst I was away. Everything was OK and they put up with us until one night I came back late in the dark & startled them. They all flew out of the nest and never came back - hope they are OK.:cry:
     
  8. MikeD

    MikeD Funster

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    heading south with the Swallows

    I agree Ken and Stephanie have got it around the wrong way. We are also heading south for a bit. :thumb::thumb:
    We were looking forward to seeing them again at Parcverger :Sad:
     
  9. GJH

    GJH Funster Life Member

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    We tend not to see Swifts round here so it was a pleasure to watch them chasing insects over the Severn at The Ketch a couple of weeks ago.
     
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