Alpine swifts, which soar over Europe and Africa, are truly at home in the aerosphere. Surviving largely on insects, these birds can stay aloft for nearly seven months at a time.
by Mehmet Hanay.
The Alpine swift (Tachymarptis melba) or Apus melba, is a species of swift. Alpine swifts breed in mountains from southern Europe to the Himalaya.
Like common swifts, they are strongly migratory, and winter much further south in southern Africa.
Swifts have very short legs which are used for clinging to vertical surfaces. The scientific name comes from the Ancient Greek απους, apous, meaning “without feet”.
They never settle voluntarily on the ground, spending most of their lives in the air living on the insects they catch in their beaks.
Alpine swift are able to stay aloft in the air for up to seven months at a time, even drinking water “on the wing”.
Their vital physiological processes, including sleep, can be performed while in continuous flight.