The order of Swift-like species includes 378 species. The order of swifts is formed by two families - swifts and crested swifts.
Swifts in flight can reach speeds of up to three hundred kilometers per hour. On the ground, they are more helpless, they can only cling to a vertical rock with sharp claws or sit on a branch of a tree or bush. The head is flattened. The beak is short.
A significant part of the representatives of the swifts family are modestly colored - gray and black tones prevail in the plumage. The area of distribution of swifts is quite large and covers all continents, with the exception of Antarctica, and some species are characterized by a "habit" of being close to humans.
Swifts arrange their nests in caves, rock crevices, hollows. Sometimes you can see a swift nest on especially large tree leaves.
The appearance of the swifts bears some resemblance to the appearance of swallows. That is why these birds are sometimes confused. One of the distinguishing features of swifts is that they scream quite loudly in flight, which cannot be said about swallows.
Individuals of the crested swifts family have a characteristic crest on their heads (hence the name). In addition, they have a long, forked tail. By the difference in color between the male and the female, one can judge such a phenomenon as sexual dimorphism.
Crested Swifts make their nests in the trees. In this regard, they are often also called tree swifts. The family of crested swifts includes four species that are combined into one genus.
Swifts are small birds. Relatively. Their body length reaches thirty-three centimeters, and their weight is one hundred and twenty grams.
Swifts are born flyers. Swifts have long, strong wings. The wings are crescent-shaped. Thus, swift wings are maximally well adapted to fast maneuvering flight. Moreover, some species of these birds are capable of speeds up to three hundred kilometers per hour. Swifts are able to drink and feed on the fly, and some even sleep! But although swifts fly well, they are rather helpless on the earth's surface. This is largely due to the fact that swifts have weak and small legs. The eyes of many species of swifts are covered with short dense feathers from the front and upper sides. These peculiar "eyelashes" are designed to provide the swift with protection from collisions with insects when it flies at high speed.
Some types of swifts have truly amazing nests. We are talking about the tropical species of these birds. For example, the Cayenne Swift, which inhabits the territories of Central and South America. This bird's nest is like a vertical pipe. The length of this "structure" reaches sixty-five centimeters. Cayenne swift with the help of saliva sticks together leaves and thin blades of grass. The resulting structure (again with saliva) is attached either to rocky ledges or to thick tree branches. At the bottom of this pipe is the entrance to the nest. There is a small area inside that serves as a place for laying eggs. The latter in the Cayenne Swift includes three eggs. No less interesting is the nest built by the swift palm. This bird is common in South Asia and Africa. The nest of this swift is a flat pillow consisting of feathers and down. The resulting structure is attached by a swift to the underside of the palm leaf. An interesting fact is that you have to glue not only the nest, but also the eggs to it. Newborn chicks hold on to a small shelter on their own with the help of their claws.
Swallow's Nest is a Chinese dish. Moreover, it is very famous. This is actually a specially prepared nest. There is only one nuance - it does not belong to the swallow at all, but to the swift. The gray swiftlet, found in Polynesia and Southeast Asia (and these birds form large colonies), builds an edible house from saliva. The nest is attached to the cave wall.
The gray swiftlet is an inhabitant of caves. Birds live in entire colonies in large dark caves, but the darkness does not at all prevent the swifts from moving confidently. The ability of the gray swiftlet to echolocation (like bats) is of great importance in this.
Swifts have few enemies. This is relatively so, and it applies to all species of these birds. The main enemy of the swifts is the hobby. It is very difficult for the rest of the birds of prey to catch the swift, since it not only flies quickly, but also never lands on the earth's surface. During seasonal migrations, the safety of swifts can be threatened by other species of falcons. Dormouse and some other climbing rodents sometimes pose a danger to chicks. This danger is more justified in the event that swifts equip their nest in tree hollows or birdhouses. Sometimes the enemy of the swift is a person. The circumstance is the same, for example, in the southern part of Europe. Here it is believed that the meat of young swifts has excellent taste. That is why residents often arrange nesting places for swifts themselves. This is done in such a way as to have access to the socket from the inside. Walls and high towers serve as such nesting sites. Residents wait for the moment when the chicks are ready to fly out of the nest, and shortly before that they pull them out, after which they eat the meat of the chicks.
The black swift is a small bird belonging to the swifts genus. The body length of this bird reaches eighteen centimeters, and the wingspan is forty centimeters. The wing length of a black swift (aka an ordinary swift) is, on average, eighteen centimeters, and the tail is eight centimeters. In Russia, the black swift is very common. True, from a distance this bird is quite easy to confuse with a swallow. The plumage color of the black swift is dark brown. The plumage is characterized by a metallic greenish tint. There is a white spot on the throat and chin of individuals. Black swifts have dark brown eyes and a black beak. The female and male of the black swift have a completely identical plumage color. Small differences are found only in chicks and adults - chicks are somewhat lighter.
The black swift is a migratory bird. It nests in northern and central Asia, as well as in central Europe. On the territory of Russia, it can be found from the western borders of the country to Transbaikalia in the east. Lives in towns and villages. Sometimes he equips nests in tall forests. For nesting, black swifts use a variety of tall structures and structures. In parks and forests, correspondingly tall trees are used. The nest itself is built in the crevices of stone buildings, under roofs, cornices. Sometimes the nest of the black swift can be found behind the window frames. For the winter, the black swift goes either to South India or to Africa. Departure occurs in August.
The swift picks up building materials for the nest on the fly. Thus, for the construction of the swift, it uses those light "handy" materials that are lifted into the air by the wind. These can be threads, lumps of plant fluff, hair, small leaves, straws, pieces of wool, etc. - the bird collects all this in a small flat pile. Then the swifts glue the collected materials with the help of viscous saliva. The resulting nest has low sides, and the tray is completely invisible. The role of litter is performed by feathers, which can be either single or in more significant numbers. The diameter of the newly built black swift nest varies from eight to nine centimeters, and the height is only one centimeter. The diameter of the tray is on average five centimeters and its depth is one centimeter. At the same time, older nests, which were adjusted more than once by swifts, are characterized by larger sizes. In this case, the diameter of the nest can be fifteen centimeters, and the height is three centimeters. The diameter of the tray in the old nest already reaches eight, and the depth is two centimeters.
The number of eggs in a clutch of black swifts ranges from two to four. They are characterized by a white solid color. The average egg size is 25x17 millimeters. Oviposition occurs in the first half of June, while the black swift arrives at nesting sites in mid-May. Helpless and naked chicks are born by the end of June and spend about thirty-five days in the nest. The female and the male feed their offspring with lumps of small insects. On each arrival to the chicks, parents bring several hundred of such lumps. Within one day, common swifts deliver food to chicks up to thirty times. Chicks leave the nest at the age of five to eight weeks, they immediately begin to fly. At first, the female and male continue to feed their offspring, doing this directly on the fly. All the same, parents put lumps with insects into the wide-open mouths of their chicks, only they do it in a state of flight. After some time (this happens in August), young chicks become capable of self-feeding.
An ordinary swift spends a significant part of the time in the air. For hours, the black swift can fly in search of food. Moreover, this bird fills its mouth with various insects to capacity. By the way, among the insects caught by the swift there are often many harmful ones, thereby the swift is of great benefit. During the day, each swift can fly a distance from four hundred and fifty to nine hundred kilometers (and even more). With great speed, they cut through the air, after which headlong (with one hundred percent accuracy) they fly into their nest. In principle, flying swifts can be easily distinguished from swallows. In this case, the slightly forked tail contour and the crescent shape of the wings, characteristic of swifts, will help. Swifts never land on bare ground or grass. Moreover, these birds rarely descend to the level of tree tops. If the swift, for various reasons, nevertheless ends up on the earth's surface, then he becomes absolutely helpless. The swift cannot take off from the soil surface.
Rainy weather deprives swifts of food resources. This is due to the fact that insects disappear in the air in such weather. There is still a way out of such a difficult situation. As for the chicks, they fall into a daze. In this state, they do not need food. As for adult birds, they fly to places with more favorable weather, fifty to seventy kilometers from the nests. Here they hunt until the end of the bad weather.
The black swift is a record-breaking bird. These birds have several specific records among all other birds. For example, a black swift can be in the air for two to three years without any interruption. Moreover, during this time, the birds may not eat anything, and, accordingly, not drink or mate. In this case, black swifts can cover a distance of up to five hundred thousand kilometers without landing on the surface. In addition, representatives of the black swifts have the highest horizontal flight speed. Thus, flying at a speed of one hundred and fifty kilometers per hour for these birds is not at all the limit.
The basin of the Mediterranean Sea is the center of the distribution range of the white-bellied swift. From this center, the area of distribution of these swifts extends, on the one hand, to the Atlas and the mountainous countries of Asia Minor, and on the other hand, to the coast of Portugal, the Pyrenees and Alps. To the east, white-bellied swifts populated areas up to the northern Himalayas. It is not uncommon for a white-bellied swift to equip nests far enough beyond the boundaries of this vast area of distribution.
White-bellied swift - Alpine swift. This is what this bird is called, and rightly so. However, the white-bellied swift is never found in the territory of the Central European Alps in such a large number as, for example, in the south. To a greater extent, these swifts inhabit the southern parts of the Alps. Although many places are known on all the high mountains of Switzerland, where the white-bellied swift equips its nests. The Alpine swift prefers the rocks directly adjacent to the sea. Sometimes this bird settles on tall buildings. Moreover, having chosen a place on the latter, the swift, with the persistence known to all, returns to it again and again.
The behavior of the white-bellied swift has both similar and different traits with the behavior of the black swift. The habits and customs of the white-bellied swift are generally comparable to the habits and customs of an ordinary swift. however, some aspects of the lifestyle of these birds still differ. Shortly after arriving at the old nest, the white-bellied swift starts building new nests and repairing old ones. The material for the nest (straw, hay, leaves, etc.) is also collected by these birds in flight. In addition, white-bellied swifts can collect grass and moss by clinging to rocks and walls. The tool for gluing individual fragments of the future nest to each other in the white-bellied swift (as well as in the common one) is always with it - this is the secretion of the salivary glands, which is a semi-liquid mass. The appearance of the nest resembles a shallow rounded cup. The top width ranges from ten to twelve centimeters, and the height varies from four to six centimeters. The average depth is three centimeters. The following can help to visualize the size of the nest: if we imagine that both the offspring and their parents are on the nest at the same time, then the nest ceases to be visible. The beginning of laying, as a rule, falls on the beginning of June. Often, laying begins even before the construction of the nest itself is completed. In this case, eggs are laid one by one in two days until three or four of them are typed. White-bellied Swift eggs are fine-white in color. In part, they are similar to plaster of paris (and not only externally, but also to the touch). An interesting fact is that the shape of the egg can be different - from elongated to very wide oval. The length of the egg is usually in the range of twenty-nine to thirty-three millimeters, and the width is from nineteen to twenty-two millimeters. The white-bellied swift, similarly to the ordinary one, hatches chicks only once a year.
White-belted swift is a bird widely distributed in the territory of East Asia. The dimensions of the white-belted swift are similar to those of the black swift. however, the white-belted swift is very easy to recognize, first of all, by the white band in the upper tail area. In the south, the area of its distribution reaches the northern regions of the Mongolian People's Republic. In the east, the white-belt swift inhabits the territory up to Kamchatka and the Japanese islands. The Himalayas also become a nesting place for this bird. The white-belted swift nests either in those mountains where there are human settlements, or in the cultural landscape, and the nests themselves are placed in tall buildings. The white-belted swift uses straws, plant stems, etc. as a building material. The clutch contains two to three eggs.
The white-belted swift is a migratory bird. For wintering, these swifts are sent to Australia, Indochina or the islands of Indonesia. By the way, it is at the wintering grounds of the white-belt swifts that molt occurs.
The Palm Swift gets its name from the place where it nests. And the swift arranges it (as the name implies) exclusively on palm leaves (most often it is the leaves of a coconut palm). Moreover, on the inner (that is, the bottom) side.The Palm Swift is small. So, the length of his body barely reaches ten centimeters. The number of these birds is highest in the tropical zone of the Eastern Hemisphere. These are South Asia and Africa. Palm swifts stick one or two eggs to the nest. Of which, a little later, completely naked and helpless chicks hatch. They are firmly attached to the socket. Moreover, they are turned head up and chest to the sheets. The chicks are in a similar position until they are fully fledged (in principle, this process takes place quite quickly). Due to the fact that man has significantly expanded the area of the coconut palm, he also expanded the area of distribution of the swift palm, making it practically his neighbor in many territories. For example, the swift palm can be found in Northern Thailand, but here coconut palms grow only as a cultural landscape. Moreover, the swift palm can nest on the roofs of houses that are simply covered with coconut leaves.
The mustachioed swift is the largest member of the swift family. The length of his body reaches thirty-three centimeters. This species is common in the Solomon Islands, the Bismarck archipelago and the Moluccas, and in New Guinea, the mustachioed swift can live in the mountains at an altitude reaching 1200 meters above sea level. The head of a mustachioed swift is decorated with a long mustache (white) and a white eyebrow.
The needle-tailed swift is the largest representative of the swift family in Russia. The body length of the needle-tailed swift varies from nineteen to twenty-two centimeters, the wingspan is from forty-eight to fifty-five centimeters, and the weight ranges from one hundred to one hundred and seventy-five grams. The length of the wings of this swift reaches twenty-one centimeters, and its weight is one hundred and forty grams. The swift got its name due to the fact that its tail is directly cut off, and the tail ones have needle ends. The lower part of the body has a dark plumage color, and the upper part is light brown in color. Black wings are characterized by a metallic sheen. The needle-tailed swift is also distinguished by a white uppertail and a white throat. The needle-tailed swift nests in forested mountainous areas. They settle their nests in the hollows of trees. The clutch contains three to six eggs. He goes to Australia for the winter.
The needle-tailed swift is distinguished by its rapid flight. The person who observes it may be surprised by the buzz, the source of which is the sound of the air being cut by the swift. It is amazing the fact, but in certain areas, these birds can accelerate to three hundred kilometers per hour.