Here are some facts about this remarkable bird, their full life history only becoming fully understood within the last 100 years.
● In the UK the swift is recorded as the fastest flying bird in level flight, capable of speeds in excess of 60 mph and covering over 500 miles a day.
● For its size it is also a relatively long lived bird with an average life span of over 5 years. In its life time a swift may fly well over a million miles.
● Unlike swallows and martins, similar summer visitors, swifts do not perch, but spend almost all of their life on the wing where they catch airborne insects, their main food source.
● Birds will only land to nest. The rest of the year and even for some birds during the breeding season, they will sleep on the wing flying to heights of up to 10,000 ft. to drift around during the hours of darkness.
● During the breeding season both birds will return to the nest before dark to spend the hours of darkness together in their chosen nest site.
● Once they have left the nest, young birds will not return and are completely independent of their parents.
● They will spend the next 2 to 3 years entirely on the wing before returning to breed in the town or village where they were born.
● Young birds in the nest are fed sporadically with a large ball of insects which the adult has caught and accumulated on the wing. This may contain several hundred insects which the adult may have caught many tens of miles away from its nest site.
● Adults will fly long distances to avoid bad weather and when the adults are away from the nest for significant periods of time, sometimes days at a time, the young have the ability to revert to a state of semi hibernation to conserve energy.
● Swifts lay their eggs by the end of May or early June and they take 2-3 week to hatch. The young birds will remain in the nest for up to 6 weeks before fledging and immediately become independent from their parents in flight and for food.