The Common Swift (Apus apus) is a bird in the Apodiformes order. It looks similar to the Barn Swallow and the House Martin, but it is related to the Hummingbird and Treeswift.
The Common Swift is black-brown, except for a small patch of white or pale-grey on its chin. It has long swept-back, narrow wings that resemble the silhouette of an anchor or a boomerang. It has a short-forked tail. It has short legs.
It grows to 16-17 centimetres (6-7 inches) in length, with a wingspan of 38-40 centimetres (15-16 inches).
It is native to Central Europe from Ireland to China, and to North Africa. It prefers lowlands near water. It is migratory. It migrates to Africa for about three months each year.
It rarely sits on the ground, as it spends most of its time in flight. No other bird spends as much time in flight as the Common Swift.
The Common Swift eats insects, such as moths and beetles. It catches the insects in flight.
In summer evenings, a colony of Common Swifts often has a ‘screaming party’ in which 10-20 individuals gather in flight around their nesting area and make loud screams. The female makes a higher scream than the male.
It makes a nest in tree hollows or underneath house eaves and tiles. The male and female mate for life, and often return to the same nesting site.
[Location of photographs: Paris, France]
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM