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Swifts are among the birds best adapted to flight thanks to a highly aerodynamic shape and the ability to change the surface and shape of their wings in flight, independently of each other. This adaptation allows them to improve their flight performance by three times, in terms of speed, distance traveled, flight duration and energy savings. They belong to the order of the Apodiforms, or rather of the "footless", since they have legs with little developed tarsi, poorly suited to locomotion, but feet equipped with sturdy claws with which they cling vertically to walls or rock faces.

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Recent studies have shown that common swifts fly continuously for 10 months of the year, never stopping.  The most common examples in Italy are the pale swift (scientifically called Apus pallidus) and the great swift (Tachymarp / s melba).  On how swifts sleep in flight, radar studies have shown that during the night, swifts reach heights of up to 2.5 km above the ground, alternating phases of active flight with glides. Recent studies have speculated that like other birds, swifts can sleep in flight by alternately putting the two brain hemispheres to sleep. Swifts in flight feed, drink, mate and sleep. If the couplings usually take place in the nest, and since the nest is actively defended from intruders, the finding, thanks to genetics, of extra pair broods, suggests that in those flights in which two individuals unite, fertilization actually takes place. They are migratory birds and spend the winter in sub-Saharan Africa, following the availability of food over the seasons. Individuals from different European countries winter in Africa in different locations while it has been shown that the same individuals over the years maintain the same migration strategy while maintaining the same routes. Swifts hunt in flight up to 20,000 insects and small spiders per day, using the large mouth cavity to capture aerial plankton, carried by updrafts, consisting mostly of diptera, beetles, hemiptera and lepidoptera. They arrive in our latitudes between mid-March and mid-April, starting to reoccupy the same nests as in previous years. They are colonial animals, colonies can count from a few to more  the 100 pairs, mono specific or mixed. They build their nest inside cavities, crevices or niches of historic and modern buildings. The nest is made up of saliva mixed with materials collected in flight, plant fragments, feathers and even plastic. In the swifts both sexes collaborate in the construction of the nest and in the breeding of the nestlings. Swifts, during the rearing of the young, especially in bad weather conditions, to chase the high pressure can hunt several km away from the colony, even being absent for 2-3 days. In these situations, the young can reduce metabolism and reduce energy consumption, pending the return of the adults with the goiter full of insects which, agglutinated in the form of a nutritious meatball, will be distributed to the nestlings.

Source for the images: "Guide to the Recognition of the Birds of Europe" by Francesco Mezzatesta - Tables by Lorenzo Dotti - edition by Giorgio Mondadori


The Common Swift is distinguished by its pale plumage, by its darker brown color, and by the less extensive light spot under the throat. It is often confused with the Swift but is smaller, has a less vigorous flight and generally flies closer to the ground. The swallow mostly frequents agricultural areas. The nest is an open mud cup. The Common Swift is found in almost all regions of Europe, Asia and Mediterranean Africa, where it nests in spring, and then overwinters in the heat of South-Saharan Africa or South Asia. For this species the inhabited centers are equally welcoming, with their numerous interstices or hollows suitable for nesting, the quieter countryside and the steep coasts.


Il Rondone pallido, è più chiaro del comune, color caffelatte e ha una macchia chiara del sotto gola più
estesa, non sempre facile da osservare in volo. Il corpo è leggermente più robusto, con la base della coda più larga. Sceglie per la nidificazione le feritoie o i fori presenti sulle pareti esterne dei palazzi. La popolazione italiana è la più importante in Europa dopo quella dei Paesi iberici (Spagna e Portogallo ospitano complessivamente 25.000-100.000 coppie) ed pari a circa il 6%-17% di quella europea complessiva. La popolazione italiana manifesta recente incremento o stabilità locale; vi sono evidenze di recenti colonizzazioni di nuovi centri urbani.


Greater Swift, decidedly larger, has white ventral looks and white throat, divided by a peforina
Brown. It has legs that are too short in relation to the body to be able to take flight from the ground, but it is an excellent climber, capable of climbing a wall to the ideal height for gliding and flying. It feeds on insects that it catches in flight thanks to its large mouth. Originally tied to rock walls and caves (and occasionally holes in trees) for nesting, it has since conquered buildings. In Italy it nests from sea level up to over 2000 meters above sea level. It is often found in interspecific aggregation with the pale Swift and in small colonies, rarely exceeding 10 pairs. The Italian population appears to be subject to stability, with a local decrease and in particular the disappearance of colonies in mountainous areas accompanied by an increase in urban populations, with a marked tendency to occupy new urban centers, especially in the north-western regions. Increasing in northern Italy, especially in urban areas.


The House Martin is a small swallow that nests in colonies in urban environments. It is recognized by the white rump and the less forked tail. The nest consists of a mud cup, anchored under the pitches of the roofs, which is accessed through a small cavity. Martin has a particular predilection for anthropized territories and chooses densely populated areas to reproduce. It arrives in Italy for the nesting period and remains there for about seven months, from March to October. In addition to Europe, flocks of the species are also encountered in Asia, particularly in north-western Siberia and Japan, and in north-western Africa. On the European continent it can reproduce up to 2000 meters high. The House Martin is by no means a solitary species: it migrates in groups and nests in very numerous colonies.

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