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Swift

Apus apus

Gabhlán gaoithe

Status
: Common summer visitor throughout Ireland from May to early September.

Conservation Concern: Amber-listed in Ireland due to a decline in the breeding population. The European population is currently evaluated as Secure.

Identification: About the same size as a Swallow, but all dark. Spends virtually all of its life airborne and never seen resting on wires, as Swallows and Martins frequently do. The weak and small feet of a Swift only allow it to cling to vertical surfaces or shuffle akwardly on the ground (at the nest). In flight, has a distinctive shape with scythe shaped wings held straight out from the body. One of the fastest flying birds in Ireland.

Similar Species
: Swallow and House Martin.

Call: Most frequently heard is a high-pitched scream "srrrriii". Often given by pairs in high speed chases.

Diet: Feeds exclusively on various invertebrates (midges, flies, spiders) caught in flight.

Breeding: Breeds throughout Ireland, usually in small recesses in buildings, both occupied and derelict. Less frequently in holes in trees or caves in uplands or coastal areas.

Wintering
: Winters in tropical Africa. Migrants arrive from the end of April onwards and most will have departed by mid-August. A few individuals can usually be seen up until the start of September.

Where to See: Urban areas throughout Ireland.

Monitored by: Countryside Bird Survey.

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