Different species of birds have their own special characteristics and qualities. Among these birds, the Alpine Swift, has a unique quality that you would have never imagined. It is able to stay aloft for nearly 6 months without landing.
Also called Royal Alpine Swift or the Alpine Swift , it measures only 20 inches long with a weight of only 100 grams. However, according to the research of Swiss Researchers, this little bird has a very strong flight endurance and it can stay aloft for six months in a row without landing on the mainland.
In fact, these researchers have equipped six Royal swifts with sensitive sensors to analyze their movements. The birds were marked right after their breeding in Switzerland, birds were then freed to migrate during winter and then return later that year.
On their return, the data confirmed the hypothesis about the ability of the birds to stay aloft for long periods of time. The swift markers indicated that the birds only stopped at their final destination of migration, that is, West Africa. Hence, these birds stayed aloft for 200 days in a row in flight.
This research has been only made possible by the development of mini sensors by the University of Bern. These sensors were used to collect and analyze information about the birds’ angle of movement and at what time of day the birds made their move. Finally, the size of these mini-tracers is paramount in making this research possible as they don’t compromise the swifts’ ability to move, given their small size and low body weight.
This research also raises some other supplementary questions, as to what these animals eat during such prolonged flight. This study published earlier in the month of October 2013 on the website of the journal Nature reports that the Alpine swifts feed on plankton air, which consists of small flying insects, spores, fungi and other microscopic volatile substances.
Finally, First evidence of a 200-days non-stop flight in a bird (name of the study published in Nature ), does not allow to know more about the rest of the Alpine Swifts. We don’t know if these birds sleep during the way. Until we know more, we have to admit that this little bird is pretty impressive, right?
The flight endurance of this funny little bird is really impressive! Could you ever imagine that a bird could stay aloft for so long?