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The Common Swift (Apus apus)

The Common Swift (Apus apus) is back. For the last two or three weeks, every morning we could hear and see dozens of swifts (Catalan: Falciot negre, Castellano: Vencejo común) sailing and gliding the skies above our townhouse in Felanitx.

We are familiar to their widespread presence, it is an annual occurrence and a most welcome sign of Spring being in full swing. The swifts’ nests shown in the photo (below) cling to the eaves of a nearby building, not 50 m from the Plaça d’ Espanya in Felanitx. The nests are a number of years old by now and have been used by the very same swifts for a year or two, or so it seems. Please, allow me to quote Wikipedia:

Swifts will occasionally live in forests, but they have adapted more commonly to human sites and will build their nests in all suitable hollows in buildings, under window sills, in the corner rafters of wooden buildings, in chimneys, and in smokestacks. A swift will return to the same nesting site year after year, rebuilding its nest when necessary. Swifts spend most of their lives in the air, living on the insects they catch in their beaks. They drink, feed, and often mate and sleep on the wing. Young swifts in the nest can drop their body temperature and become torpid if bad weather prevents their parents from catching insects nearby (end of quote).

Talking about bad weather. It appears as though temperatures will be dropping again from this afternoon. Some winds, even small storms are forecast for tomorrow and Tuesday, with temperatures dropping to 16° C, and even 13° C in some areas, later in the week. Snow is forecast in Mallorca for Wednesday above 1,400 m. That should not much matter to the young swifts as they have not hatched yet, I don’t think. The incubation time is usually three months, as far as I know, and they have only just got here.

The photos were taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The dates: April 1st and March 29th, 2010. The time was 08:46:44 and 10:40:28, respectively .

3 replies »

  1. At the beginning of May, early one evening on 9th floor of a hotel in Calas de Mallorca we saw many Swifts hunting, several actually landed briefly on us as we stood on the balcony. We were wearing dark clothing at the time. The experience was stunning especially when the first Swift flew directly towards me at high speed and landed lightly just below my shoulder. This was during quite stormy weather and happened on two or three successive evenings. One bird even slept overnight on a deep window ledge and didn’t move for at least 10 hours.

  2. Just back from our flat in Cala Bona and noticed that we have birds/chicks in a nest under our 3rd floor plant/ water run off alcove, the mother was in and out very often feeding them, could they be swifts or swallows, does not look like the typical nest and when will they fledge?
    Thanks for now.

  3. The nests shown are house martin nests. Swifts breed in little crevices similar to house sparrows. But yes, swifts circle around Soller today as well.
    Greets Rolf

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