Scientific NameApus apus
Breedinglate May
Fledge Days35-56
Incubation Days19-20
Lifespan9 years
Number of Clutches1
Number of Eggs2-4
Size16 - 17cm
Weight36 - 50g

Bird Family : Swifts

Swift Facts - Information About Swift

Swift - Apus Apus

The Swift is a widespread, common summer visitor to the United Kingdom. It is a well known bird which is commonly found nesting in towns, it uses cavities in walls, roofs etc to nest in. The Swift spends about 4 months her, arriving in May and departing August.



  • The Swift is an incredibly fast flying aerial expert; it is all dark and has a shallow forked tail.

  • The sound of a screaming pack of Swifts chasing each other is a common sound during the summer months.

  • Adult males and females are identical.

  • Swifts are larger than their cousins, the Swallows and Martins.

  • They are larger bodied, stockier and longer winged, around 19cms.

  • The entire bird is dark brown, appearing black at a distance.

  • The throat is slightly paler.

  • The tail is forked.

  • In flight the Swift has a sickle shaped profile.

  • During flight the tail is often closed giving the body a long pointed rear end.

  • Swifts very rarely land, everything is done on the wing.

  • The bill is small and black, legs black, eye black.

Swifts spend all of their time airborne, sleeping, hawking insects and drinking from pools by low level skimming, adults only land when visiting the nest. You will never see Swifts perched.


  • Juveniles appear from June onwards and look similar to adults.

  • Young birds show pale edges to the feathers if seen well, a paler throat and darker background colour.

  • Once fledged, the Swift will not land until they breed!

  • Bill, eye and legs black.

Status and Distribution

The Swift is an abundant breeding summer migrant in the UK with over 100,000 pairs. The Swift occurs in all counties throughout the UK.
Swifts arrive later than Swallows and start to arrive in May, they leave earlier too, most have departed by late August.


Swifts occur in all habitat types throughout the UK, woodlands, parks, gardens, farmland, indeed any open country.
They are aerial feeders, taking a huge array of Insects' on the wing, they are cavity nesters.


Call notes; delivered during rapid flights with other Swifts, chasing and screaming at each other as if playing. It’s a loud repeated, high pitched ‘sccrreeeee’.