Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Another summer visitor checks in

The Chimney Swifts are back. Let the summer begin.

I heard their distinctive twittering in flight over my yard on Sunday afternoon. Looking up, I saw three of the little birds barreling around the sky over the yard in their iconic "bat-out-of-hell" flight.

Chimney Swifts could not be mistaken for any other kind of bird - except perhaps another variety of swift like the Vaux, but we don't have those here so identification is easy. It's not just their constant twittering calls; their bodies are unique, looking like a big cigar from tip of beak to tip of tail, with long, slender wings attached. The birds seem to be mostly wing and that is appropriate since they are creatures that live their lives on the wing, eating, drinking, mating, even sleeping in flight. Those scythe-shaped wings cut through the air very efficiently, thus sending the birds on their very fast jaunts from here to there. In Yoda-speak, swiftly they fly; well-named they are.

Those efficient wings are only folded and at rest at night when the birds head into a chimney or other similar vertical structure where they can cling to the sides and spend the night. The bird's feet are as underdeveloped and weak as the wings are super-developed and strong. They are unable to perch like most songbirds, but the feet can lock onto a rough surface like bricks and cling.

These birds always look joyful in their flight and I look forward to their return each spring and their presence here throughout the summer into late September. Not surprisingly, they are on the early side this year. Normally, they return at the same time as the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, but, so far, I haven't seen any of the little hummers. Any day now, I'm sure.       

2 comments:

  1. It does look like a cigar, or a bullet; with that shape they most be super fast.

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    1. Everything about their bodies is evolved to be aerodynamic. They are marvelous in flight.

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