Species Focus


(Apus apus)


Swifts are black-brown with a forked tail and long boomerang-like wings. They eat all kinds of airborne insects including spiders and flies, taking advantage of swarms.

Listen to a Swift call

Watch a Barn owl  in flight

Discover: Swift

The only time these birds land is for nesting, swifts spend most of their lives in the air, sleeping, feeding and mating in the sky.

  • Conservation status: Amber (Birds of Conservation Concern)
  • Measurements: Length: 16-17 cm, wingspan: 42-48 cm, weight: 36-50g.
  • When swifts are flying about in social groups, you should be able to hear their high pitched screaming calls to each other.

Swifts can tell the difference between hoverflies and stinging insects like bees and wasps, allowing them to take advantage of non-stinging insects with warning colours.

Swifts in flight

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Can you spot: Look out for these boomerang-shaped birds swooping over rooftops in social groups between April and August.

Did you know: When feeding, swifts can hoard up to 1000 insects in saliva at the back of their throats, they save these insect ‘bolus’ until they can regurgitate it to feed their young.

Discover more species at Waterbeach

Discover more ecology areas Waterbeach

Northern buffer
Northern buffer habitat area
western bund Waterbeach

Western bund habitat area

Former golf course at Waterbeach
Former golf course habitat area

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