Known for their agility, strength, and love for flying, switching to auto-pilot when they need sleep during their long flights

Swifts are among the most aerial of all terrestrial birds, spending the majority of their lives on the wing, only landing to breed. Their name, Apus, originates from the Greek word meaning “without feet,” which is a slight misnomer as they do have feet, but they are small and adapted for their life in the air, not for walking.

These birds have streamlined bodies with long, narrow wings, making them highly efficient fliers capable of remarkable speed and agility in the air. This design is optimized for their predominantly airborne lifestyle, enabling them to spend months flying without ever needing to land. Studies have shown that some species, like the Common Swift (Apus apus), can stay aloft for up to 10 months straight, eating, sleeping, and even mating in mid-air.

Swifts are highly social birds that often travel and feed in groups. They exhibit complex social behaviors, which include communal roosting and formation flying. This social structure is also evident during migration, where they travel in large flocks, sometimes numbering in the thousands, covering vast distances between their breeding and wintering grounds.

When it comes to breeding, swifts prefer high, secluded spots like chimneys, cliffs, and tall buildings, away from the reach of most predators. Their unique foot structure, the lateral grasping foot, where two toes face forward and two back, allows them to cling to vertical surfaces. This adaptation is crucial for their nesting habits, enabling them to roost and nest in vertical crevices, providing security for their offspring.

Despite their almost entirely aerial life, swifts are not immortal in the skies. They face threats from predators such as birds of prey, particularly when they are nesting, or young birds that are not as adept at flying. However, their flying skills generally keep them safe from predation outside of these vulnerable periods.