…because the swifts are back! I just heard a screaming party go rifling past my veranda. And when I checked my blog, I found that I’d posted about their arrival last year on 21 March. Consistency, thy name is Apus apus.
I had to give up a lot of favorite birds when I left the New World (hummingbirds come instantly to mind), but European swifts make up for a lot of it. Their faster-than-a-speeding-bullet flight, and their evening screaming parties, are some of the coolest things ever. The fact that they demolish mosquitos and other annoying insects is just icing on the cake.
See that gigantic mouth? All the better to scoop up bugs in flight (not to mention grabbing a drink of water on the wing). And their wings are incredibly long relative to their body size, giving them not just bullet-like velocity but also the ability to turn on a dime. Fleeing bugs don’t have a chance. This video of a pair of swifts in their nest box will give you a good idea of just how long those wings are: so long that the birds have a hard time changing position inside their box. Your best view in the video starts around 1:20. And at 1:45, if you’ve got the sound up, you can faintly hear a screaming party going by outside the box. The swift in the box screams in response, then jumps out to join them.
I love European swifts. My day just got a whole lot brighter.
(Both photos by Billy Lindblom.)