Swift


Swift
Swifts
Common Swift, Apus apus
Note wing shape different from swallows
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Apodiformes
Family: Apodidae
Hartert, 1897
Genera

Nearly 20, see text.

Range of the Swifts.

The swifts are a family, Apodidae, of highly aerial birds. They are superficially similar to swallows, but are actually not closely related to passerine species at all; swifts are in the separate order Apodiformes, which they share with hummingbirds. The treeswifts are closely related to the true swifts, but form a separate family, the Hemiprocnidae.

The resemblances between swifts and swallows are due to convergent evolution, reflecting similar life styles based on catching insects in flight.

The family scientific name comes from the Ancient Greek απους, apous, meaning "without feet", since swifts have very short legs and never settle voluntarily on the ground, clinging instead to vertical surfaces. The tradition of depicting swifts without feet continued into the Middle Ages, as seen in the heraldic martlet.

Contents

Description

Swifts are the most aerial of birds. Larger species are amongst the fastest fliers in the animal kingdom, with the White-throated Needletail having been reported flying at up to 169km/h.[1]. Even the Common Swift cruises at 5 to 14 metres per second (18–50 km/h, 11–31 mph).[citation needed] In a single year the common swift can cover at least 200,000 km.[2]

The swiftlets or cave swiftlets have developed a form of echolocation for navigating through dark cave systems where they roost.[3] One species, Aerodramus papuensis, has recently been discovered to use this navigation at night outside its cave roost also.

Swifts occur on all the continents, though not in the far north or large deserts, and on many oceanic islands.[4] Like swallows and martins, the swifts of temperate regions are strongly migratory and winter in the tropics. Some species can survive short periods of cold weather by entering torpor, a state similar to hibernation.[3]

Many have a characteristic shape, with a short forked tail and very long swept-back wings that resemble a crescent or a boomerang. The flight of some species is characterised by a distinctive "flicking" action quite different from swallows. Swifts range in size from the Pygmy Swiftlet (Collocalia troglodytes), which weighs 5.4 g and measures 9 cm (3.7 inches) long, to the Purple Needletail (Hirundapus celebensis), which weighs 184 g (6.5 oz) and measures 25 cm (10 inches) long.[3]

The nest of many species is glued to a vertical surface with saliva, and the genus Aerodramus use only that substance, which is the basis for bird's nest soup. The eggs hatch after 19 to 23 days, and the young leave the nest after a further six to eight weeks. Both parents assist in raising the young.[3]

Systematics and evolution

Scaniacypselus fossil

Swifts and treeswifts have long been considered to be relatives of the hummingbirds, a judgement corroborated by the discovery of the Jungornithidae, which were apparently swift-like hummingbird relatives, and of primitive hummingbirds such as Eurotrochilus. Traditional taxonomies place the hummingbird family (Trochilidae) in the same order as the swifts and treeswifts (and no other birds); the Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy treated this group as a superorder in which the swift order was called Trochiliformes.

The taxonomy of the swifts is in general complicated, with genus and species boundaries widely disputed, especially amongst the swiftlets. Analysis of behavior and vocalizations is complicated by common parallel evolution, while analyses of different morphological traits and of various DNA sequences have yielded equivocal and partly contradictory results (Thomassen et al., 2005).

The Apodiformes diversified during the Eocene, at the end of which the extant families were present; fossil genera are known from all over temperate Europe, between today's Denmark and France, such as the primitive Scaniacypselus (Early - Middle Eocene) and the more modern Procypseloides (Late Eocene/Early Oligocene - Early Miocene). A prehistoric genus sometimes assigned to the swifts, Primapus (Early Eocene of England), might also be a more distant ancestor.

Taxonomic list of Apodidae

Tribe Cypseloidini

Tribe Collocaliini - swiftlets

  • Genus Collocalia (3-4 species)
  • Genus Aerodramus (about 25 species, sometimes included in Collocalia)
  • Genus Hydrochous - Waterfall Swift
  • Genus Schoutedenapus - African swiftlets (2 species)

Tribe Chaeturini - needletails

Tribe Apodini - typical swifts

References

  1. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/earth/hi/earth_news/newsid_8539000/8539383.stm
  2. ^ Piper, Ross (2007), Extraordinary Animals: An Encyclopedia of Curious and Unusual Animals, Greenwood Press.
  3. ^ a b c d Collins, Charles T. (1991). Forshaw, Joseph. ed. Encyclopaedia of Animals: Birds. London: Merehurst Press. pp. 134–136. ISBN 1-85391-186-0. 
  4. ^ Martins, Thais; Mead, Christopher J. (2003). "Swifts". In Perrins, Christopher. The Firefly Encyclopedia of Birds. Firefly Books. pp. 346–350. ISBN 1-55297-777-3. 
  • Chantler, Phil & Driessens, Gerald (2000): Swifts : a guide to the swifts and treeswifts of the world. Pica Press, Mountfield, East Sussex. ISBN 1-873403-83-6
  • Thomassen, Henri A.; Tex, Robert-Jan; de Bakker, Merijn A.G. & Povel, G. David E. (2005): Phylogenetic relationships amongst swifts and swiftlets: A multi locus approach. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 37(1): 264-277. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2005.05.010 (HTML abstract)

External links


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Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • SWIFT (J.) — Jonathan Swift, le docteur Swift, doyen de St. Patrick (Irlande), l’amant de Stella, l’auteur des Voyages de Gulliver : voilà, dans la mémoire populaire, un écrivain anglais pour les grands et les petits, mais aussi, pour le critique, le plus… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Swift — bezeichnet: Suzuki Swift, Kleinwagen von Suzuki Swift (Satellit), Forschungssatellit der NASA Swift (Fluss), ein Fluss in England Swift (Band), amerikanische Metal Band Swift (HSV 2), Hochgeschwindigkeits Katamaran der US Navy Swift… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • SWIFT — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. {{{image}}}   Sigles d une seule lettre   Sigles de deux lettres   Sigles de trois lettres …   Wikipédia en Français

  • swift´ly — swift «swihft», adjective, adverb, noun. –adj. 1. moving very fast; able to move very fast: »a swift horse, a swift automobile. SYNONYM(S): fleet, speedy, rapid. 2. made or done at high speed; quick: »a swift pace, the swift clicking of the… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Swift S-1 — Role Aerobatic glider Manufacturer Swift Ltd. Designer …   Wikipedia

  • SWIFT — (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications) сообщество всемирных межбанковских финансовых телекоммуникаций. Создано в 1973 году с целью телекоммуникационного обслуживания банков участников сообщества на рынке платежей, а также… …   Банковская энциклопедия

  • Swift — (sw[i^]ft), a. [Compar. {Swifter} (sw[i^]ft [ e]r); superl. {Swiftest}.] [AS. swift; akin to sw[=a]pan to sweep, swipu a whip; cf. sw[=i]fan to move quickly, to revolve. See {Swoop}, v. i., and cf. {Swivel}, {Squib}.] 1. Moving a great distance… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Swift — Swift, n. 1. The current of a stream. [R.] Walton. [1913 Webster] 2. (Zo[ o]l.) Any one of numerous species of small, long winged, insectivorous birds of the family {Micropodid[ae]}. In form and habits the swifts resemble swallows, but they are… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Swift S1 — Swift S 1 Typ …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Swift — /swift/, n. 1. Gustavus Franklin, 1839 1903, U.S. meat packer. 2. Jonathan ( Isaac Bickerstaff ), 1667 1745, English satirist and clergyman, born in Ireland. * * * Any of about 75 species (family Apodidae) of birds found almost worldwide. The… …   Universalium

  • Swift S-1 — Swift S 1 …   Deutsch Wikipedia


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