Swifts in general are aerial feeding birds superficially like swallows and martins but, in truth, evolved to be like them but from a different ancestral path. The Swift is the one found over most of Europe and through to the Pacific coast of China. All winter in Africa (mostly south of the Equator).
It is basically sooty black with a pale chin and has the classic stiff, sickle- winged silhouette. The birds are completely aerial even copulating on the wing and breed mostly in the roofs of buildings. Their screaming parties threading around the eaves are a characteristic sound of summer. They are virtually legless - the family name is Apodidae - literally without feet - although the feet are very strong for clasping to the walls of houses below the nesting hole. British and Irish breeding population about 100,000 pairs.
One of about 75 species - virtually world-wide.
Length 165 mm Closed wing 170 mm Weight 40 gms
A Bird On! Sketch by Chris Mead
Copyright © 1996 by Jacobi Jayne & Company and Chris Mead