This fascinating creature with enigmatic dark eyes and curved wings flies around all the time and even sleeps in the air. From all birds on earth the Swift is the one that is most perfectly adapted to airspace .For a bird of this size its longevity is amazing: the oldest known has just come of age – 21 years.
There are two species on Fuerteventura: the one-colour Swift (Apus unicolor unicolor) with almost even black feathers and a size of 15cm, and the mixed colour Swift (Apus pallidus brehmorum) which has white feathers on its throat and is somewhat bigger (16,5cm).
The worst enemy of this high-performance flyer, who also can be seen in the centre of Puerto del Rosario, is wet, windy and cold weather because the insects do not come out then. Fortunately this weather profile is rare in Fuerteventura, but if it happens, be careful when you drive a car as they might fly very close to the track to chase insects there.
Amazing also is the fact that they are able to “climb” a vertical wall at 4 weeks after hatching, by heavily moving their wings and tail. These exercises are indispensable to develop their muscles.
Long ago their nests were exclusively in cavities from the mountain walls, but nowadays they have their nests in new buildings. The importance of the original, natural breeding spots has been reduced to almost non-existence; today, natural mountain colonies are a rarity.
The Swift is a heavenly creature and the one who had the opportunity to watch the older ones fly frantically and the younger ones experimenting eagerly, knows that there is no other life for them than this. Keeping a “wall sailor” in captivity – besides that it is infringing the law – is equal to animal abuse. It would be an incomparable cruelty to omit it its freedom and pleasure to fly with companions. Worse than death.
Info from Christiane Haupt, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Mauersegler e.V. http://apusapus.net/
Fotos: Dr. Thomas Herold, www.fincaesquinzo.de , www.tierhilfe-fuerteventura.de