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Apodidae – Swifts

Vaux’s Swift in the United States: Photo by Joachim Bertrands

Welcome to the Apodidae guide! Swifts are a family of fast-flying birds found worldwide, known for their incredible aerial abilities and constant flight. These birds spend most of their lives in the air, feeding, mating, and even sleeping while on the wing. Swifts build their nests on vertical surfaces using their strong feet, and many species are known for their complex migration routes. Dive into our guide to learn more about the different species, their habitats, behaviors, and remarkable adaptations to life in the sky.

Overview of Apodidae

Swifts excel in their aerial lifestyle, foraging on the diverse array of airborne plankton. Certain species are so specialized for life in the air that they struggle to take off from flat ground and only return to land to reproduce. Swifts use mud or adhesive saliva to anchor their nests—or eggs—to plants, walls, or cliffs, allowing for a steep take-off while safeguarding against predators. Similar to some caprimulgiform relatives, a few swifts have developed echolocation for navigating deep caverns, and others can endure cold periods without food by entering torpor.