Africa / Poetry / Science / Sounds / Thoughts

Arrival of the Swifts

Speedily zipping

Swifts have returned from the south

Announcing summer

The first swifts have returned today. For me, their high-pitched sounds are the music of the summer. I love to hear them. I also love to watch the birds. During hot days, they rise up to high altitudes, following their insect prey. Now, the evening is still cool and a jacket is needed but I am looking forward to those mild summer evenings when the swifts come down and whirr around the house at high speed with their typical cries.

They are now going to stay until around the beginning of September, when they will disappear as suddenly as they have come, flying back to their African winter quarters.  These birds are the real inhabitants of the air. It is believed that outside the breeding season, they can stay in the air nonstop for several months.

(The picture is from

(The sound file is from

14 thoughts on “Arrival of the Swifts

  1. I got to know and love the swifts where I now live, in a rural area in South Africa. I had a moment that it may be our swifts that you are enjoying now, since we are entering winter as we speak. I had a few wonderful experiences with them: the first one, in my back garden, the swifts just flew and flew and played while they did. I stood still and one flew right over my shoulder, its wing brushed my cheek. It was a wonderful experience for a person from the city. Another time, walking in nature and the same, they have no fear of humans, not here anyway. It seems their whole nature is to fly for the joy of it and not just to catch food.

    • One time one flew through an open window into the apartment where I was living. It got confused and clung to a curtain. I took it (I could just “plug” it from there) and brought it outside again.
      I also thought the ones here might be from your place. Not very likely, but possible. I will extend your greetings to them. We are going to send them back to you later in the year. 🙂

      • I look forward to their return specifically because of their nature. I don’t think I’ve seen any other bird fly just because it can. The Long Crested Eagles have gone off as well. Majestic birds.

        • It might actually be some kind of playing behavior, who knows. They are exceptionally adapted to flying. I read that they don’t touch the ground outside the breeding season. They sleep flying. There is a hypothesis that they sleep with one half of their brain at a time. Other birds are a compromise between land, air, and sometimes water, the swifts are just air-dwellers. I find them very fascinating and beautiful.

          • I didn’t know that! Would have to get a bird book of my own. I believe the ‘Roberts’ is the definitive authority. A blue crane strutted up and down the other day. Obviously enjoy the long crested eagles. A neighbour and I were chatting at the gate and a tiny red robin flew right between us, chirping at its mates. I could imagine it scolding them for eating alone or something. Not sure whether I should protect my cat from the resident ravens. We were outside, and one flew right at us! But there hasn’t been any other incidents. Saw my first grey owl the other early evening.

  2. Reblogged this on The Asifoscope and commented:

    I have just seen the first swift of this year. A few days earlier than last year (spring here is at least 4 weeks early this year, but they could not know that when they started in their African winter quarters). I am a fan of these birds! 🙂

  3. Pingback: The Rule of the Dinosaurs | The Bubbling of my Thoughts

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