MAY: HIRUNDINES AND SWIFTS
This month we focus on the aerial feeders of hirundines and swifts
SOME PEOPLE CALL them ‘aerial plankton feeders’, the swallows, martins and swifts which spend very long periods of time in continuous flight catching flying insects and floating spiders in their wide gapes. They are the graceful swallows, martins and swifts which are always such a pleasure to watch on a spring or summer’s day. Sometimes, though, they are less of a pleasure to identify, presenting a modicum of challenge if seen in the wrong light, at the wrong height or disappearing quickly out of sight. Swifts are not really related to hirundines, but a bit of convergent evolution has given them similarly shaped bodies, tiny bills, long thin wings and forked tails as adaptations to their lifestyles. See if you can name these six birds, then turn the page for the solutions and more ID tips.