Woodland Trust

Nature's CalendarNature Detectives

Have you spotted the first flowering of elder yet?

Swift. Snowmanradio, Wikimedia Commonsswift

Apus apus


Why not download our swift fact sheet?

swift fact sheet 

  • Dark all over with pale throats
  • Narrow, scythe-shaped wings

Look for groups of screaming birds dashing between buildings, or almost invisible high specks swooping after insects in the dusk - click on the recording below to listen: 

Swift.www.moorhen.demon.co.ukWhere found

Low over meadows or high over buildings. They nest in cracks in masonry or on rafters. Except when on the nest, they spend their whole lives, even sleeping, on the wing.

When to look for

Did you know?

  • Swifts use the same nest year after year, merely adding fresh material, which is caught in the air

  • By sleeping with half of its brain at a time, the swift lives a perpetually aerial life, coming down only for a short period each year to breed

  • A young swift can be hundreds of miles south to African winter quarters 48 hours after leaving the nest

  • For their size swifts are long-lived, and individuals up to 21 years old are on record

  • In abnormally cold weather swifts may throw out complete clutches of eggs from their nests

  • Swifts have very short legs and never settle voluntarily on the ground, preferring vertical surfaces

  • The swifts are superficially similar to swallows but are actually not closely related to them at all