Swedish researchers at the Lund University led a study on common swifts. They can now account for the fact that the small birds rarely touch the ground. They are great aeronauts and can feed, mate, and probably even sleep in the air. This is why they can travel long distances without resting and touching the ground.
A Swedish couple of scientists gathered their information in a practical way. They caught nineteen common swifts and put data loggers on them. The tracking devices are light and by no means do they disturb the activity of the birds. The monitoring project started three years ago.
After fitting the birds with the devices, all that researchers had to do was monitor them. They had information on the location and activity of the common swifts. This is how they confirmed that the birds fly from Europe to Africa every year, but they don’t touch the African land. They only soar the skies.
The information provided by the data loggers revealed that these birds could fly for months and get no rest. Only one night or a few hours are enough for the extremely active swifts. However, researchers also believe that sleep is one of the many things that these birds can do while flying.
The researchers say that they can stop on house roofs or tree branches on their flight, but hardly ever on the ground. They explain that this is because the common swifts have short legs and large wings which prevent them from walking properly and taking off successfully from the soil. So their anatomy is designed for flight.
The Swedish specialists also observed that some of the birds made more stops than others. They believe that those were individuals whose plumage hadn’t developed fully at that time of the season. They suspect that this might be an inconvenient for birds when flying, causing them to be slower and require more stops than usual.
Previous studies from researchers also account for the swifts remarkable ability and resistance. Swiss specialists monitored alpine swifts in their annual journey from the European country to Africa. The results suggested that the small birds might have been flying for two hundred days without a break. This time interval allowed them to fly from Europe to Africa and return to Switzerland without even touching the African land.
Specialists believe that there are especially food advantages for swifts. They explain that insects travel much too, and the birds can feed on the traveling swarms. They also hypothesize that if the birds spent more time on the ground, they would have a poorer diet.
Image courtesy of: Wikipedia