The most precocious of yearlings - the squadron leader.

June 25, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

3rd wave swift activity around the house is still going strong. Frantic even.

We are visited multiple times a day now by at least one squadron of swifts, with one individual in particular, being noticeably more keen to investigate our main swift entrance hole - more so than its other members of the squadron.

I took a few photos of this bird this morning - and the photos are of sufficient quality and show sufficient detail for me to confidently state that this individual is a yearling  - that is to say it will have been born last Spring (perhaps late May or early June), and probably not too far from here.

It will have dropped out of its nest space at the end of last July and probably* not touched a surface since, until coming back to the UK to lead a squadron of screamers (and copycat-bangers) and prospecting swifts around this particular neighbourhood, in quite African weather (which is what, effectively it has been used to, spending the last 8 or 9 months in the Congo and sub Saharan Africa, after all).

*'Probably' as now swift experts believe young swifts may well cling to cliffs etc, temporarily, in periods of poor weather while in Africa - this has not been documented but is postulated after looking in detail at ringed-birds' toenails (yes... "toenails" NOT claws) which seem to get shorter during their time in Africa, suggesting they're being worn down by something other than air.

This squadron leader is certainly part of the 3rd wave of swifts - a wave which consists mainly of one year old birds - still perhaps two or even three years off breeding for themselves - but very much here to learn the ropes, so-to-speak - and join in the summer party.

Below are a couple of photos of this bird, this morning.

In the second, you'll clearly see light-tipped wing feathers (I've helped you out if you still can't see them) and a very extensive, pale throat patch. All swifts have pale throats but the yearlings exhibit large, almost white throats it seems.

All clear signs that this is a young or immature bird.

This squadron leader is also the one with very fluffy "pyjama bottoms" as described in my last post. "Summer air shows".

I'm, no... we're... thoroughly enjoying these birds with us this year. And yes... it may be a couple of years before they actually breed with us (if they survive that long - and chances are they may well not).

I hope you're enjoying them too.

Four or five more weeks and they'll be gone.



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