What is the difference between a Swallow and a Swift?

What is the difference between a Swallow and a Swift?

Both Swallows and Swifts have long pointed wings.

Both Swallows and Swifts have short legs.

Both Swallows and Swifts have wide beaks to catch insects.

Both Swallows and Swifts are highly aerial when flying.

Swallow (left) and Swift (right)

However, Swallows and Swifts are from two different families.

The Swallow has broader wings than the Swift. The Swift has narrow, long wings that make its silhouette look like the shape of a ship’s anchor.

The Swallow will spend periods of time on the ground, whereas the Swift is an aerial bird that spends the majority of its life in the air, flying, and rarely settles on the ground. 

The Swallow has a deeper forked tail than the Swift.

The Swallow has a fluttering flight, whereas the Swift had quick wingbeats and it glides for longer than a Swallow.

The Swallow prefers to sit on the ground when resting, whereas the Swift, when it rarely rests, prefers to perch on vertical surfaces. 

Swallows are related to Martins. Swifts are related to Swiftlets and Hummingbirds.

Rock Martin (African Swallow)
African Black Swift

Photographer: Martina Nicolls

Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM

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