Common Swift and Its Flight: What Should You Do If You Find a Common Swift That Cannot Fly?

The animal which you find on the ground in spring or summer and say ”Oh, it can’t fly and walk, is it a nestling? How to feed it?” is a bird species called common swift (Apus apus) which comes to Turkey in spring, breeds in summer and migrates in autumn.

First of all, the birds you find are not nestlings. In fact, they are probably much older than most of you! Most of them are mother or father birds, whose cubs are waiting for food in their nests.

You may say “But it can’t fly!” This is because its narrow and long wings have evolved for being able to achieve extremely high speeds in the air. With this type of wings, it is not possible for it to take off from the ground without wearing a jet engine to its “backside”! In fact, this happens all too often in evolution. As a trait evolves to an excessive amount during the evolutionary process, many disadvantages (handicaps) come with it. For instance, swifts float very rapidly for days; however, when they land, they cannot take off again. You know, evolution…

You may also say “But it also can’t walk properly, poor thing!”. The reason is again because of the disadvantage coming from their ability to reach exaggerated speeds. Another adaptation of the aerodynamic structure which enables these birds to reach high gliding speeds is their feet becoming stubby. Just as airplanes turn their landing gear off in the air, these birds also have very small feet and can’t walk properly. Therefore, just as you can’t walk on your toes (if you are not a ballet dancer), these animals can’t walk very well with their tiny feet.

“Then, how will these animals reach the air again?” you may ask. Usually, they can only stay on the roofs of tall buildings or high cliffs. Once they take off with the help of the wind or by throwing themselves into space from a high place, they can fly nonstop for days. Actually, there are not many bird species that can stay in the air as long as the common swifts.

Now, let’s come to the critical question: What should you do when you find a common swift?

Well, after this information, it is not very difficult to guess. Throw the bird on your palms softly upwards or drop it down from a high place. It will fly away.

You can give it soaked cat food or lean ground beef to feed; however, the animal probably won’t want to eat from your hand. Normally, its own diet is based on the insects it catches in the air. Therefore, when you try to feed it, you would make it lose more energy and water.

As a result, take make these animals fly to the skies as soon as possible so that they continue to chase their prey!