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Bird name:


Apus apus




Swifts (Apodidae)





Euring 5

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Breeding Location:

Forests, Urban, Cliffs, Buildings

Breeding Type:

Monogamous, Colonial

Egg Colour:


Number of Eggs:

2 - 4

Incubation Days:

18 - 19

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Material:

Dry grasses, straw, dead and green leaves, flower petals, winged seeds, feathers and scraps of paper. Fresh poppy petals are sometimes used. The material is stuck to the nest with saliva.

Nest Location:

Hollows in buildings, building eaves, under window sills, in the corner rafters of wooden buildings, in chimneys, and in smokestacks.




Swift: One of the fastest birds in the world, they are black-brown overall with a pale grey or cream chin. Wings are long and swept-back, tail is short and forked. Legs and feet are black. Sexes are similar. Juvenile has a lighter chin and the feathers on its wings have pale edges, giving it a scaled appearance.

Range and Habitat

Swift: Summer visitor to the UK and Ireland, more common in the south, east. Arrives at the end of April; leaves for southern Africa in August. May be seen high in the sky over most habitats as it ranges widely in search of food. Breeds from the Arctic Circle to Northern Africa and east into Asia.

Breeding and Nesting

Swift: Two to four white eggs are laid in a nest of grass, feathers, and leaves bound by saliva and affixed to a vertical surface. The eaves of buildings, chimneys, and smokestacks are common sites. Both sexes incubate eggs for 19 days. Chicks fledge after 35 to 56 days, depending on the weather.

Foraging and Feeding

Swift: Feeds on insects such as aphids, flies and wasps, also eats spiders carried by the wind. During breeding season may eat up to 10,000 insects daily. During warm weather they fly at higher altitudes to catch insects carried there by thermals, and in cold weather they hunt closer to the ground.


Swift: Makes a loud, shrill scream.

Similar Species

Swift: The Swift has a dark breast and underparts, which distinguishes it from similar birds. There are no similar Swifts in region.

The area of the face just below the bill.
4 and 6 letter alpha codesX

The four letter common name alpha code is is derived from the first two letters of the common first name and the first two letters of common last name. The six letter species name alpha code is derived from the first three letters of the scientific name (genus) and the first three letters of the scientific name (species). See (1) below for the rules used to create the codes..

Four-letter (for English common names) and six-letter (for scientific names) species alpha codes were developed by Pyle and DeSante (2003, North American Bird-Bander 28:64-79) to reflect A.O.U. taxonomy and nomenclature (A.O.U. 1998) as modified by Supplements 42 (Auk 117:847-858, 2000) and 43 (Auk 119:897-906, 2002). The list has been updated by Pyle and DeSante to reflect changes reported by the A.O.U from 2003 through 2006.


The Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) was established in the mid-1990 s as a cooperative project among several federal agencies to improve and expand upon taxonomic data (known as the NODC Taxonomic Code) maintained by the National Oceanographic Data Center (NODC), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

To find the ITIS page for a bird species go to the ITIS web site advanced search and report page at You can enter the TSN or the common name of the bird. It will return the ITIS page for that bird. Another way to obtain the ITIS page is to use the Google search engine. Enter the string ITIS followed by the taxonomic ID, for example "ITIS 178041" will return the page for the Allen's Hummingbird.

Parts of a Standing birdX
Head Feathers and MarkingsX
Parts of a Flying birdX