Adventure Travel Abroad

These birds can fly almost ten months without landing

These birds can fly almost ten months without landing


We have discovered that the common Swift, a long a long-distance migrating bird spends its entire non-breeding season, a period of 10 month up in the air. And during that period they never come down to roost on the ground or in trees. A few individuals do so but only for very brief periods. But there are also individuals that never come down at all. They spend their entire 10-month period up in the air. 10-month is the current world record for being airborne. And this gives us a new questions of course; How is it possible to be active for such a long time? Because flight and especially powered flight is very energy demanding. But also we don’t know when and how much the swifts are sleeping. But one possibility is that since we have discovered that they climb to very high altitudes both at dawn and dusk, it could be that this is the period when they actually take their naps when they come down in gliding flight. We have developed a new type of technology, a small backpack that we put on the bird. That contains light sensors for geolocation and by that we can tell where the bird has been during migration. But also and more importantly this device contains an accelerometer And the accelerometer detects movements of the bird. The entire backpack weighs less than a gram. We need to have a very light device so we don’t interfere with the birds natural behavior.


Reader Comments

  1. This is soooo cool! My Dad had lots of Purple Martin houses in a big colony and did studies on their travels using banding on the leg. Was really amazing how they could be hatched and raised in our yard, fly to South America, then come back to same yard or same neighborhood. He tracked birds all around the area too. He was an Engineer, but did this after retirement. Amazing stuff! The little tracking device on the bird is fantastic technology.

  2. This is amazing. Such a long time in the air. What I would like to know is: when do they eat? Is it done by catching insects while in flight?

  3. yeah the back packs don't interfere with their natural behaviours like grabbing them out the sky and tagging them… not at all. cancer is still out there guys…. how about fuck with that?

  4. What if birds think of us as Aliens, getting captured to get probe on the back, and now everyone stay away from you because you're a bird with a probe on your back side…. Tough life for the bird…

  5. This discovery is a dream come true for me, because when I was a kid like age around 8 I used to watch this birds flying so high during the day time flying lower towards the dusk but I never saw this birds landing or resting. One more thing amazed me is its nest, they had a nest built of clay on the roof of my uncle's home for years and many , many generations of this birds laid eggs , hatched and flew away using the same nest, a couple of times the nest got damaged due to human activity but they rebuilt it every time , was it the same bird or the offsprings generations after generation used this nest ? Just like the sea turtles the offsprings come to same place where they born (hatched), if experts can answer this question I would be very happy.

  6. Just found out my Patronus is a Swift and finding out about these birds makes me proud to be associated with them. They are so miraculous. I dreamt of being a bird as a child. I imagined how wonderful it would be to soar above the world and see everything from high in the sky. The fact that these birds fly most of the time really connects with me. I would probably spend most of my time in the air too if I could do it!

  7. So how do they eat……Imagine if humans could do a heavy work of running without eating for ten months….they'd be dead in 3 days infact

  8. As a hang glider pilot in south Texas I have had some wonderful experiences flying with the Swifts. When the sun heats up the ground in the afternoon the heat from the ground heats up the air on the surface. Once a certain temperature is reached masses of warm air will rise up, like a balloon. These masses of rising air are called thermals. Sometimes you can see thermals when there is dust (dust devils), or when there is debris (corn husks, grass). When the thermals trigger and lift off, many times they will also take small bugs (crickets, grasshoppers, dragonflys) up along the way with the dust and debris. Swifts catch their prey inside these thermals, many times thousands of feet in the air.

    Hang glider pilots search for these areas of rising air, thermals, to stay aloft on our motor-less gliders. The problem is that thermals are mostly invisible, unless you see evidence of one(debris, dust devil, birds*). The problem is that swifts are relatively small and they are lightening fast! So for hang gliding pilots, they are hard to see when you compare them to other birds that utilize thermals for flight(soaring birds,buzzards,hawks,falcons,eagles). They are experts at climbing in thermals and they are hunting for those small insects at the same time. It is a real treat to see one when flying, they are beautiful, and fast.

    If you are truly a bird lover, I would suggest trying hang gliding with a discovery hang gliding flight (tandem with an instructor). I have flown with bald eagles only 15-20 feet away from me. I often experience birds coming to help me…I will be flying along looking for a thermal, suddenly a hawk or buzzard or eagle will come from behind me and fly ahead of me. I follow where the bird goes, and they almost always lead me to a thermal! They can tell I am trying to stay up, and they help pilots find rising air, it is a magical experience to say the least, spiritual, is a better word. They you circle up in the thermal, wing tip to wing tip, making eye contact with the bird, some times several birds! There is nothing like it…Hang gliding is often misunderstood as an extreme sport, when in reality there is a WONDERFUL element of nature that is there to enjoy, and it is a feeling that is powerful, not in an "adrenaline" kind of way but, Spiritual…. I have lots of stories about flying with birds at my website thermalcowboy.com plus I have some videos on my youtube channel….

    I loved the video, I love learning the habits of the birds I share the sky with. Thank you for putting out a quality video!!

  9. Guru Granth Sahib ji said one who name anal agam they whole life are flying and her baby bird birth and quickly flying waheguru shiree Guru Granth Sahib ji talking about parmatma

  10. This bird is very common in my country. They can't take off from the ground. If you find one you can launch them into the air and they'll fly away.

  11. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8lGlliYEMI  Another birb video of flying around the house, singing, playing, and more!

  12. We have gotten a fallen little swift who is unable to fly … please tell what can we do to help her. Currently she entered into cartoon box n not willing to come out .

  13. Ugh these little fuckers would wake me up in the early hours of the dawn when I lived in Lyon, France.

    I hate their chirps. Gave me nightmares for weeks.

  14. Please help, i found a common swift, i was feeding it normally for like a month now but then it got sick please help i dont want it to die, what do i do?

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