Conservation status: Amber

The swift is a medium-sized aerial bird, which is a superb flier. It evens sleeps on the wing! It is plain sooty brown, but in flight against the sky it appears black. It has long, scythe-like wings and a short, forked tail. It is a summer visitor, breeding across the UK, but most numerously in the south and east. It winters in Africa.



Latin name

Apus apus


Swifts (Apodidae)

Where to see them

Look up in the sky in summer, often very high. They never perch on wires like swallows. You might see excited screaming parties of them careering madly at high speed around rooftops and houses, often low, especially towards dusk.

When to see them

April - August.

What they eat

Flying insects and airborne spiders.


EuropeUK breeding*UK wintering*UK passage*
-87,000 pairs--




Patrik Aberg, Xeno-canto

Similar birds

How you can help

We'd like to know where you've seen screaming swifts or swift nest sites.

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