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Order Swifts/Apodiformes, Family Swifts/Apodidae

Common Swift/Apus apus - Adult

L 17-18½ cm, WS 40-44 cm. Breeds in towns and villages and, rarely, in deserted wooded areas or cliffs. Summer visitor (mostly May-Aug), winters in S Africa. Nests in ventilation shafts, cracks etc. in walls, under convex roof tiles or in church towers, sites used regularly year after year. Pairs stay together throughout their life.
IDENTIFICATION: Seen incessantly hunting insects in the air, often with swallows (and confused with these by the layman); told by dark underparts (only throat pale), somewhat larger size, different wing shape and flight. Wings sickle-shaped with long ‘hand’ and very short ‘arm’ (carpal joints indiscernible, right next to body). Flight one minute with frenziedly fast wingbeats (action so rapid that wings appear to ‘beat alternately’), the next with long glides or sailing, motionless against the wind (swallows flutter, or have more backward-clipping action). - Juvenile: Blacker ground colour; pale forehead and lores (white feather fringes); whiter throat patch; finely whiteedged wing-coverts.
VOICE: Various shrill, monotone, ringing screams, ‘srriiirr’, sometimes faintly downslurred (or upslurred). Especially striking are the choruses of screams from tight flocks flying around low over the rooftops on summer evenings.

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