Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Alpine swift

Tachymarptis melba

Photo by Daniele Occhiato (PBase)

Common name:

Order Apodiformes
Family Apodidae

The alpine swift breeds in the Iberian Peninsula, in southern and Alpine Europe through France, Italy, Switzerland, the Balkans and Greece. Also in Mediterranean Africa and through the Middle East into Asia Minor, India and the Himalayas. They winter further south, both in sub-Saharan Africa and in the Indian sub-continent.
These large swifts are 21 cm long and have a wingspan of 55 cm. They weigh 100 g.

They are mostly found breeding in cliffs in mountainous areas, in rocky habitats in deep ravines, but also in the centre of large cities like Istanbul. They often hunt over wetland habitats such as rivers, swamps and seasonally flooded grasslands.

They eat flying insects and spiders caught in flight. The honey bee Apis mellifera is one of their major preys.

Alpine swifts build their nest in colonies, in a suitable cliff hole or cave. Both the male and the female make a shallow cup of stems and grass, fixed with saliva. The breeding season is in April-June, during which one clutch of 1-4 eggs is laid. The male and female take turns incubating the eggs for 20 days, and both parents rear the chicks until they are ready to fledge when they are 50 to 70 days old. They are old enough to breed at the age of 2-3 years
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and a total population estimated at 1-4 million.The population is suspected to be stable and there is no evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

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