Common Swift, Swift, European Swift
Value of species
The species is listed as 'amber' on both the U.K. and Irish national Red Lists (Lynas et al. 2007, Eaton et al. 2009).
Its scientific name Apus is Latin for a swift, thought by the ancients to be a type of swallow with no feet (from Ancient Greek α, a, "without", and πούς, pous, "foot").
Swifts have very short legs which they use primarily for clinging to vertical surfaces (hence the German name Mauersegler, literally meaning "wall-glider"). They never settle voluntarily on the ground, where they would be vulnerable to accidents and predation, and non-breeding individuals may spend up to ten months in continuous flight.
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and therefore is not thought to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
The European population is estimated at 19,100,000-32,500,000 pairs, which equates to 38,200,000-65,000,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms c. 40% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 95,500,000-162,500,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed. The population is therefore placed in the band 95,000,000-164,999,999 mature individuals.
Trend Justification: Between 1980 and 2013 the European population trend was estimated as stable (EBCC 2015).
The species inhabits a wide range of habitats from arid steppe, desert, temperate, Mediterranean and boreal zones. It breeds between March and June. It nests mainly in buildings, but in remote parts of the range it also uses tree hollows and rock crevices. The nest cup is constructed of small pieces of vegetable matter and feathers, agglutinated with saliva. It feeds on insects and spiders. It is a long-distance migrant wintering in Africa mainly from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania south to Zimbabwe and Mozambique (Chantler and Boesman 2013).
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