Chimney Swift

Hey guys welcome back. So, as you can clearly see, today I have no picture. Although I’ve seen probably literally hundreds of chimney swifts in my day, they are probably the most difficult bird to get a picture of. Why? Well, they rarely stop flying. If you’ve ever been out walking around on a summer day and hear a sort of chattering call and looked up and saw what looked almost like a bunch of bats flying around, then you’ve seen chimney swifts. Another good example of convergent evolution, the chimney swift behaves very much like a swallow. They are, however, taxonomically closer to hummingbirds (although some place hummingbirds on their own, but I’m not getting into a taxonomic debate haha!) It all has to do with their feet! They have tiny legs and feet. And while hummingbirds can perch on branches, swifts cannot. When swifts do land, they have to cling to vertical surfaces, like chimneys!

Funny enough, chimney swifts are also a rare example of human habitation increasing their population! Before European settlers came to this continent, chimney swifts nested on cliffs or in caves, but after settlers came over and started building houses with chimneys, their populations soared (pun intended.) However, they are on the decline, which some attribute to the way modern chimneys are built, which is unsuitable for chimney swift nesting.

In terms of field marks, well there really isn’t any. They are most identifiable by their flight silhouette. They have curved, somewhat cresent-shaped wings, and their bodies have been described to me by birders as cigar-shaped. And since they almost never land (except to nest and roost) its nearly impossible to get a good look at them! In fact, some species of swift can even sleep in flight! Although this article refers to the Eurasian common swift, some swifts can stay in flight for nearly a year! They are able to essentially put parts of their brain to sleep at a time, so they can get their rest, and stay flying! Pretty amazing little birds! Next up, we head back to the water for the green heron! See you all then!

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