A new study has revealed that common swift birds can stay in the air for extremely long periods of time. Researchers studying these animals were able to observe that in some cases they could fly for ten months nonstop without ever needing to land.
Researchers from Lund University in Sweden have recently published a study in the journal Current Biology which details the observational experiment regarding the behavior of the common swift birds. They attached data recorders to 19 birds between 2013 and 2014 in order to obtain flight data. The devices measure a variety of information such as acceleration and the activity of the birds during flight. Researchers also included trackers to monitor the geolocation of the animals.
After an extensive period of observing and gathering data, the researchers recaptured the birds. During the course of their study, researchers discovered that the common swift birds can spend up to 10 months flying continuously without even being required to land. This period matches with the period of time where the birds aren’t seeking to breed.
One particular swift bird which was observed as part of the study was found to have only stopped for four night in 2014. The same feat was exceeded in 2015 by the same bird when it only took a two-hour break from its flight. Although this bird stood out, the rest of the common swift birds were no slouches either. The time they spent on land resting is significantly lower than the amount of time they are in flight.
The researchers believe the birds are sometimes taking a break for the flight because of bad weather. If the weather conditions are favorable they can continue flying without any issues as they both feed, breed and even nest while they are in the air. According to the researchers, the swifts can even sleep in the air but how they actually do it is still unclear. Some scientists speculate that birds with long flight periods can rest one hemisphere of their brain at a time.
The study suggests that the reason the birds are able to fly for so long is related to their food preferences. They like eating flying insects found at high-altitudes. They are also not fit to properly land on the ground because of their short legs.
Image source: Wikipedia