Swifts flying over rooftops


One UK species, three more in Europe, many more worldwide. Swifts have elongated, cigar-shaped bodies, short, forked tails, very small bills but wide mouths, long, stiff, scythe-shaped wings and tiny legs, with all four toes facing forwards.

They can cling to an upright surface or (rarely) foliage, but are unable to perch or walk, unlike swallows and martins. Swifts in the UK are exclusively aerial except at the nest; they nest inside cavities, mostly in buildings. For most of the year, they are in Africa, visiting the UK from May to early September.

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