Friday, 19 October 2012

Chimney swift

Chaetura pelagica

Photo by Daniele Occhiato (PBase)

Common name:
chimney swift (en); andorinhão-migrador (pt); martinet ramoneur (fr); vencejo de chimenea (es); schornsteinsegler (de)

Order Apodiformes
Family Apodidae

This species breeds in western North America, from Alberta to Newfoundland, in Canada, and throughout the western United States down to Florida and Texas. They migrate south to winter in north-western South America, from Colombia and Venezuela to Peru, northern Bolivia and north-western Brazil.

These birds are 12-15 cm long and have a wingspan of 27-30 cm. They weigh 17-30 g.

During the breeding season the chimney swift is mainly found near human settlements. Outside the breeding season they are also found in irrigated agricultural areas, along rivers bordered by forests, and along the edges of rainforests and secondary growths. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 2.500 m.

They feed exclusively while in flight, taking various flying insects and spiders.

Chimney swifts are monogamous and may mate for life. They breed in May-July and form colonies from a few pairs up to thousands of individuals. Each pairs builds a cup-shaped nest made of small sticks and twigs, held together by saliva and glued to the inside of a wall or chimney with saliva. There the female lays 3-7 glossy white eggs, which are incubated by both parents for 19-21 days. The chicks may leave the nest 14-19 days after hatching, but typically only start to fly about 1 month after hatching.

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and the global population is estimated at 15 million individuals. This population is likely much large than what is was before the urban development of eastern north America, as they took advantage of chimneys and other human structures for nesting. However, the population as declined in recent decades, by as much much as 40% since 1980, mainly due to the loss of roosting and nesting sites caused by logging operations, the demolition of old abandoned buildings and, especially, the sharp decline in the number of suitable and accessible traditional chimneys.
exclusively while in flight

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